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Southern Oregon University

Coordinates: 42°11′10″N 122°41′38″W / 42.186°N 122.694°W / 42.186; -122.694
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Southern Oregon University
Former names
Ashland Academy (1872–1878)
Ashland Academy and Commercial College (1878–1882)
Ashland College and Normal School (1882–1886)
Ashland State Normal School (1886–1895)
Southern Oregon State Normal School (1895–1909; 1925–1932)
Southern Oregon Normal School (1932–1939)
Southern Oregon College of Education (1939–1956)
Southern Oregon College (1956–1975)
Southern Oregon State College (1975–1997)
TypePublic university
Established1872; 152 years ago (1872)
Academic affiliations
Endowment$38 million (2021)[1]
PresidentRick Bailey
ProvostSusan Walsh
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Students6,114 (fall 2018)[2]
Undergraduates5,260 (fall 2018)
Postgraduates854 (fall 2018)
Location, ,
United States

42°11′10″N 122°41′38″W / 42.186°N 122.694°W / 42.186; -122.694
CampusMidsize suburb[3], 175 acres (0.71 km2)
NewspaperThe Siskiyou
ColorsRed and black
Sporting affiliations
MascotRed Tailed Hawk

Southern Oregon University (SOU) is a public university in Ashland, Oregon. It was founded in 1872 as the Ashland Academy, has been in its current location since 1926, and was known by nine other names before assuming its current name in 1997.[4] Its Ashland campus – just 14 miles from Oregon's border with California – encompasses 175 acres. Five of SOU's newest facilities have achieved LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.[5] SOU is headquarters for Jefferson Public Radio and public access station Rogue Valley Community Television. The university has been governed since 2015 by the SOU Board of Trustees.[6]

Southern Oregon University is organized into seven academic divisions: the Oregon Center for the Arts at SOU; Business, Communication and the Environment; Education, Health and Leadership; Humanities and Culture; Social Sciences; Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics; and Undergraduate Studies. About 90 bachelor's degree, graduate and certificate programs are offered. Most of SOU's academic programs are on the 10-week quarter system. The university's Oregon Center for the Arts enjoys a collaborative relationship with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, located in downtown Ashland.[7]

Southern Oregon University is a member of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.[8]



Southern Oregon University began as Ashland Academy in 1872, founded by Ashland's Methodist Episcopal Church.[4] The Rev. Joseph Henry Skidmore served as its first president. In 1878, the school was renamed the Ashland Academy and Commercial College, and then renamed Ashland College and Normal School in 1882, Ashland State Normal School in 1886 and Southern Oregon State Normal School in 1895.[9] While Oregon lawmakers designated the institution in 1882 as an official state normal school – a teachers’ college – the state provided no funding. It closed in 1890 and reopened five years later, still relying on tuition and donations for revenue. The Oregon Legislature finally recognized the institution's needs in 1897 and approved a first-time appropriation of $7,500. The school flourished, but the legislature reversed course in 1909 and eliminated funding for Oregon's normal schools.[10]

Students in the manual training program at Ashland Normal School in 1908.

Southern Oregon State Normal School closed at the end of the school year and remained shuttered until state funding was reestablished in 1925. The state restarted Southern Oregon State Normal School in Ashland on 24 acres at its current location in 1926.[11] The first building on the new campus was Churchill Hall, named for the college's president, Julius A. Churchill. Ashland residents passed the "Normal School Site Bonds" to purchase the campus property and the legislature approved $175,000 to build the new facility, which now serves as SOU's administrative building. Inlow Hall at Eastern Oregon University was built from a copy of the building plans for Churchill Hall, designed by architect John Bennes in the Renaissance style.[11] In 1932, the Oregon State Board of Higher Education renamed the institute Southern Oregon Normal School.[4]

The school's speech and drama professor, Angus Bowmer, staged a Fourth of July production of Shakespeare's “Merchant of Venice” in 1935, launching what would become the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.[12]

The college received full accreditation from the American Association of Teachers Colleges in 1939, and Oregon Governor Charles A. Sprague signed a bill changing the institution's name to Southern Oregon College of Education.[4]

Elmo Stevenson – for whom the Stevenson Union would later be named – took over as president in 1946 and rebuilt the school's enrollment from a low of 45 at the close of World War II to nearly 800 less than three years after his arrival.[13] He became the institution's longest-serving president to date, retiring in 1969 from what had been renamed Southern Oregon College – to reflect more diverse course offerings – in 1956.

The institution was renamed Southern Oregon State College in 1975 and became Southern Oregon University in 1997.[14] The campus now includes 175 acres with modern facilities, enrollment of more than 6,000 students and more than 1,100 degrees conferred annually.[15]



Southern Oregon University consists of seven academic divisions: the Oregon Center for the Arts at SOU; Business, Communications and the Environment; Education, Health and Leadership; Humanities and Culture; Social Sciences; Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics; and Undergraduate Studies. In addition to the main campus, classes are offered at a Medford facility that SOU shares with Rogue Community College.[16] The Oregon Health & Science University also maintains a school of nursing program at the SOU main campus.[17]

As of the 2019–2020 academic year, three SOU faculty members in three years had been awarded Fulbright scholarships to teach, lecture and conduct research at various institutions worldwide.[18]

Southern Oregon University is the first university in the United States to offer a Transgender Studies Certificate.[19]

On February 9, 2021, Southern Oregon University was named #4 on a ranking of "Most Affordable Online Colleges for Students With Learning Disabilities in 2021."[citation needed]

Rogue Community College and Southern Oregon University Higher Education Center


Southern Oregon University and Rogue Community College worked together to implement the guidelines of the white paper "Annexation of Jackson County to the District of Rogue Community College," signed on March 6, 1996. During the 1997–99 biennium, Rogue Community College and Southern Oregon University received regional partnership funding from the legislature to jointly launch several new initiatives to provide additional access for a larger number of residents in southern Oregon. Construction on the downtown Medford center broke ground March 2007 and was completed September 2008.[20] The three-story, 68,700-square-foot (6,380 m2) center includes classrooms, science labs, computer labs, a Prometric Testing Center and the Business Center. The Higher Education Center offers lower- and upper-division level courses, as well as three master's degree programs: Master in Business Administration (offered in a cohort format with classes held on Saturdays), Master in Management (courses offered online and at night), and the Master of Arts in Teaching (a two-year, part-time version of the Southern Oregon University one-year Master of Arts in Teaching program).[21]

The presidents of SOU, RCC, Oregon Institute of Technology and Klamath Community College jointly announced in November 2018 their creation of the Southern Oregon Higher Education Consortium.[22] The alliance is intended to streamline students’ educational pathways and address the region's specific workforce needs. Separate meetings of academic officers and enrollment leaders from the four institutions are held regularly to discuss complementary academic programs, transfer agreements and other issues of mutual interest.[23]

Hannon Library


The library was named after Oregon state senator Lenn Hannon after he secured $20 million in government bonds and $3.5 million in private support. The Hannon Library finished construction in 2005. The Oregon State Board of Higher Education initially named the library The Lenn and Dixie Hannon Library but the facility's name was later changed to The Hannon Library. The project almost doubled the size of the existing library and created much-needed room to expand publications and collections. The library also received many technological advancements that provide long-term value for the community.[24]



The Siskiyou, a student-edited university paper staffed by student reporters and photographers. It is published online periodically during the academic year. The print edition of The Siskiyou began in 1926, and its editorial staff pioneered the shift to an entirely online student newspaper in January 2012. The Siskiyou received top honors in the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association's Collegiate Newspaper Contest in 2009 and 2018.[25]

SOU News, an online “news portal” managed by the university's Marketing and Communications office, launched in September 2018. It publishes several staff-written stories each week about SOU news and events, and provides daily links to stories about SOU from external media.[26]

Campus life


Many of the majors offered at the university have associated clubs. There are clubs for hobbies, sports and music, and for support for multiculturalism.[27] Southern Oregon University students are involved in community arts. Outside magazine rated Southern Oregon University one of the top 20 schools in the U.S. where students can hit the books and the backcountry.[28]

The Princeton Review named SOU one of the most environmentally responsible colleges in the U.S. and Canada.[29] SOU became the original Bee Campus USA in 2015 and in 2018 it was named the nation's top pollinator-friendly college by the Sierra Club, as part of its annual “Cool Schools” rankings.[30] The university was recognized by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities as the 2019 recipient of AASCU's Excellence and Innovation Award for comprehensive sustainability and sustainable development.[5]

Student activities and support are supplemented by a number of resource centers on campus. The Women's Resource Center, Student Sustainability Center, Commuter Resource Center and Queer Resource Center all provide services, resources and events for their respective communities. The university is represented on the board of directors of the Oregon Student Association and SOU's own 15-member Board of Trustees includes one student member.

There are several residence halls on campus, as well as family housing complexes.

  • The newest residence hall complex on campus is Raider Village, which includes Shasta and McLoughlin halls, and The Hawk dining commons. The state-of-the-art facility, which was completed in 2013, achieved LEED Gold certification for sustainability.[5]
  • The adjacent Greensprings Complex consists of four halls: Applegate, Bear Creek, Crater Lake and Deschutes. The four halls, built in the 1970s, are centered around a large lounge. Greensprings residents share The Hawk dining commons with residents from Shasta and McLoughlin halls.
  • Madrone Hall consists of 24 four-bedroom suites, each with two bathrooms, a common kitchen and furnished living room. The Madrone Apartments opened in September 2005.
  • Student Apartments and Family Housing is located two blocks from campus and houses more than 200 students, faculty, staff and their families. Units in the Quincy Apartments and Wightman Apartments range from 450-square-foot studios to 1,518-square-foot, four-bedroom units. The university also has houses that are available to qualified students.
  • The oldest residence hall on campus that is still in regular use is Madrone Hall.
  • Susanne Homes (Suzy) is now home to the Honors College, Community of Recovery in Education (CORE) program and SOU's McNair Scholars Program. The main area of the building, called "the Fishbowl," is used by all four groups.



The Southern Oregon athletic teams are called the Raiders. The university is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Cascade Collegiate Conference (CCC) for most of its sports since the 1993–94 academic year; while its football team competes in the Frontier Conference, and its wrestling team competes as an Independent.

Southern Oregon competes in 20 intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports include basketball, cross country, cycling, football, golf, soccer, track & field and wrestling; women's sports include basketball, beach volleyball, cheerleading, cross country, cycling, dance, golf, soccer, softball, track & field, volleyball and wrestling. Club sports include baseball, crew, judo, lacrosse, rugby, skiing, men's soccer, swimming, men's tennis and ultimate frisbee.



The school has the Red-tailed Hawk as their mascot.



Southern Oregon's football team won the NAIA Football Championship in 2014, and its wrestling team won the National Wrestling Championship four times: in 1978, 1983, 1994, and 2001.[31] The Raiders men's cross country team won the NAIA Men's Cross Country Championship in 2010 and 2016; the men's and women's teams won the NAIA Cross Country Championship Combined Title in 2018; and the women's softball team won the NAIA Softball Championship in 2019, 2021 and 2023.

Notable people



  1. ^ "SOU Foundation".
  2. ^ "Fact Book 2018" (PDF). SOU Office of Institutional Research.
  3. ^ "IPEDS-Southern Oregon University".
  4. ^ a b c d Kreisman, Authur. Remembering: A History of Southern Oregon University . Eugene, Ore.: University of Oregon Press, 2002.
  5. ^ a b c Fowlkes, Caitlin (22 October 2019). "A deeper shade of green". Ashland Daily Tidings. Archived from the original on 12 December 2019. Retrieved 2 February 2023.
  6. ^ Thomas, Teresa (29 September 2014). "SOU's first governing board appointed". Mail Tribune. Archived from the original on 12 December 2019. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  7. ^ "Community Arts Partners". Oregon Center for the Arts: Community Arts Partners. 2018. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  8. ^ "Gmsn Members by State & Territories". American Association of State Colleges and Universities. 2019. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  9. ^ Montgomery, Teresa (17 March 2018). "Southern Oregon University". The Oregon Encyclopedia. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  10. ^ Tucker, William Pierce (1931). "Ashland Normal School, 1869-1930 (In Two Parts, Part I.)". Oregon Historical Quarterly. 32 (1): 46–60. JSTOR 20610610.
  11. ^ a b Tucker, William Pierce (1931). "Ashland Normal School, 1869-1930 (In Two Parts, Part II.)". Oregon Historical Quarterly. 32 (2): 165–176. JSTOR 20610640.
  12. ^ "Angus L. Bowmer". Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  13. ^ "History of the Hannon Library". Hannon Library, Southern Oregon University. 2019. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  14. ^ "SOU has gone through many monikers". Mail Tribune. 25 January 2015. Archived from the original on 12 December 2019. Retrieved 2 February 2023.
  15. ^ "About Southern Oregon University". Southern Oregon University. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  16. ^ Achen, Paris (30 September 2008). "RCC-SOU center impresses with its 'bells and whistles'". Mail Tribune. Archived from the original on 12 December 2019. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  17. ^ Darling, John (14 June 2015). "95 percent of OHSU Ashland nursing grads to make an average of $32 an hour". Ashland Daily Tidings. Archived from the original on 12 December 2019. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  18. ^ "SOU criminology professor awarded Fulbright scholarship to teach in Bosnia". SOU News. 10 October 2019. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  19. ^ Neumann, Erik (16 June 2020). "Southern Oregon University To Offer Transgender Studies Certificate". Oregon Public Broadcasting. Retrieved 27 January 2021.
  20. ^ Darling, John (March 21, 2007). "RCC-SOU Joint Project Breaks Mold". Medford Mail Tribune. Dow Jones Local Media Group. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  21. ^ RCC/SOU Higher Education Center
  22. ^ Tornay, Kaylee (28 November 2018). "All four one: higher education institutions to pool resources". Mail Tribune. Archived from the original on 3 December 2018. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  23. ^ "Southern Oregon colleges and universities work together on student success". Klamath Falls News. 16 July 2019. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  24. ^ "Lenn and Dixie Hannon - Hannon Library at Southern Oregon University". hanlib.sou.edu. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  25. ^ "About the Siskiyou". The Siskiyou. 2010-11-17. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  26. ^ "SOU News: Fresh news and information". 25 September 2018. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  27. ^ "Multicultural Resource Center". sou.edu. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  28. ^ "Outside University Archived 2010-09-20 at the Wayback Machine". Outside. Retrieved 2006-05-05.
  29. ^ "SOU earns Princeton Review 'green guide' honor". Ashland Daily Tidings. 24 October 2016. Archived from the original on 12 December 2019. Retrieved 2 February 2023.
  30. ^ Schipani, Sam (27 August 2018). "14 Pollinator-Friendly Colleges That Have Us Buzzing". Sierra Magazine. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  31. ^ "NAIA Wrestling Championship History" (PDF). netitor.com. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 July 2011. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  32. ^ "Devin Cole MMA Bio". Retrieved 2014-01-01.
  33. ^ "Agnes Baker Pilgrim". www.agnesbakerpilgrim.org. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  34. ^ Aldrick Rosas Stats. Pro-Football-Reference. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
  35. ^ "Rick Story UFC Bio". Retrieved 2014-01-01.