Southern Oregon University (SOU) is a public liberal arts college located in Ashland, Oregon, United States. Founded in 1926, it was formerly known as Southern Oregon College (SOC) and Southern Oregon State College (SOSC). SOU offers criminology, natural sciences, including environmental science, Shakespearean studies and theatre arts programs. It is headquarters for Jefferson Public Radio and public access station Rogue Valley Television. SOU is a member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges.
Southern Oregon University began as Ashland Academy in 1872, founded in part by Reverend Henry Skidmore of Oregon's Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1878, the school was renamed Ashland College, and then renamed Ashland College and Normal School in 1879. In 1887, the State of Oregon proclaimed the school an official state normal school. However, the state did not provide any funding for the school, and in 1890 the school closed. In 1892, the school selected a new site in the city with financial assistance from Methodists in Portland, and construction began on what was named the Ashland Collegiate Institute. The school reopened in 1895 as the Southern Oregon State Normal School (SOSNS), and state funding began in 1899.
In 1904, the school became a full state school, but funding was eliminated in 1909, leading to the closing of the campus. In 1926, the state reestablished Southern Oregon State Normal School in Ashland at a new location on land donated by the city, where the university is currently located. The residents of Ashland passed the "Normal School Site Bonds" to build the new facility. The building was later named Churchill Hall after SOSNS' president Churchill who oversaw the relocation project. Churchill now serves as Southern's administrative building, with the president's office on the first level. Churchill Hall closesly resembles Eastern Oregon University's Inlow Hall. Both buildings were built at during the same time from the same architecture semantics. The buildings were designed by architect John Bennes and retain their original Renaissance style.
In 1932, the Oregon State Board of Education renamed the institute Southern Oregon Normal School. In 1939, the state board eliminated normal schools in Oregon. The university received full accreditation from the American Association of Teachers Colleges. With the accreditation, Oregon Governor Charles A. Sprague signed into law the bill changing the institution's name to Southern Oregon College of Education. In 1956, the university underwent another name change, to Southern Oregon College (SOC) to reflect the institute's diverse degree options. In 1975, SOC was renamed Southern Oregon State College (SOSC) and finally in 1997, SOSC became Southern Oregon University.
Southern Oregon University consists of the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, and the School of Education. In addition to SOU's main campus, classes are offered on the university's satellite campus in downtown Medford. The main campus is home to an Oregon Health Science University satellite campus, which maintains a school of nursing.
The College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) was formed in 2007 by combining the SOU School of Arts & Letters, School of Sciences, and the School of Social Sciences. In 2011, U.S. News & World Report ranked Southern as the 71st best amongst the regional universities in the west.
RCC/SOU Higher Education Center
Southern Oregon University (SOU) and Rogue Community College (RCC) 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, RCC and SOU 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. 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 masters 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 SOU one-year MAT program).
The Siskiyou a student edited university paper staffed by student reporters and photographers. It is published online each Monday during the academic year.
The West Wind Review is a nationally-distributed literary magazine that features a wide range of established and emerging writers. It is published annually in February.
The Soap Box is the university's alternative periodical, publishing more liberal articles from students and community members. It is published infrequently.
Many of the majors offered at the university have associated clubs. There are clubs for hobbies, sports, and music, as well as continued support for multiculturalism. There is a Newman Center for Roman Catholic students, the LDS Student Association, and several Protestant organizations, such as the Campus Crusade for Christ to the Bible Club. There is also currently a Jewish student Union being created. SOU students are involved in community arts. The SOU Public Domain Players co-produces the annual 10-Minute Plays Festival each July. They work together with ArtWork Enterprises, a group devoted to supporting the development of new plays for national stages. Outside magazine rated SOU 20th on a list of U.S. universities in 2003, based on recreational opportunities.
Student activities and support are supplemented by a number of resource centers on campus. The Women's Resource Center, Ecology Center of the Siskiyous, and the Queer Resource Center all provide services, resources, and events to their respective communities. The university is represented on the Board of Directors of the Oregon Student Association.
There are several Residence Halls on campus, as well as family housing complexes.
A new residence complex, the North Campus Village, began construction in the Spring of 2012. It is slated for opening in the Fall of 2013.
Southern Oregon sports teams, known as the Raiders, have the Red-tailed Hawk as a mascot. The Raiders are a member of the NAIA, primarily competing in the Cascade Collegiate Conference. Men's sports include basketball, cross country, football, track & field and wrestling; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, soccer, softball, track & field and volleyball. Southern Oregon's football team competes in the Frontier Conference, and its wrestling team competes as an Independent in the NAIA West Regional, winning the National Wrestling Championship four times: in 1978, 1983, 1994, and 2001.