SOU’s 2013 commencement largest in school’s history

Southern Oregon University’s 2013 commencement ceremony will take place Saturday, June 15 at 8:45 a.m. in the Raider Stadium.

An expected 1,356 students will receive degrees and certificates at the event; 983 bachelor’s degrees, 225 master’s degrees, as well as an additional 101 academic certificates and 47 nursing degrees for students from Oregon Health & Science University. The most popular major for this year’s graduating class was business administration, followed by psychology.

“This is the largest class we’ve graduated,” says James Beaver, director of interactive marketing and media relations. “It reflects the growing enrollment at SOU. More students, more graduates.”

Of the graduates, 64 percent are Oregon residents, with Jackson County being the home of 722 of them. The youngest graduate is 19 and the oldest is 69.

This year’s commencement speaker is George Pernsteiner, chancellor emeritus of the Oregon University System, Oregon’s system of higher education comprising of seven state universities.

Pernsteiner, who served as chancellor of the OUS from 2004 to 2013, has also served as vice chancellor for the University of California, vice president for finance and administration at Portland State University, and vice provost and chief financial officer for the University of Oregon. As chancellor, Pernsteiner oversaw all seven of Oregon’s public universities, served as the principal staff for the State Board of Higher Education, and was the link between the universities and Oregon’s state government.

Also speaking at the commencement will be Kirk Schueler, Chief Administrative Officer for the St. Charles Health System and representative of the OUS, and SOU student Shane Boyd.

Boyd, a non-traditional student who received military awards serving in Iraq from 2004 to 2006, is a double major in sociology and mathematics with a minor in philosophy. A Ronald E. McNair scholar, he has been accepted into the Master of Arts in Teaching program to pursue teaching in mathematics at the middle/high school level. Boyd has also recently published undergraduate research on the anti-vaccination movement in the Southern Oregon region.

In keeping with SOU’s commitment to sustainability, the commencement ceremony will feature recycled programs, biodegradable graduation gowns, and compostable drinking cups. Graduates who don’t want to keep their commencement robes are encouraged to donate them to future graduates through a program coordinated by SOU students.

The weather will likely be hot, so water will be offered before and during the event at a number of water stations. Stations designed to refill water bottles are also available.

There will be lots of graduates and guests attending the ceremony so it’s best to arrive early for a good seat, advises Beaver. The gates will be open by 7 a.m., he said, so plan accordingly.

Parking can be a little difficult as well, Beaver adds, although free parking will be available in all SOU campus parking lots. Because of construction on the North Campus Village residence hall complex, there will also be a free shuttle service running from the Mountain Avenue parking lot to the Raider Stadium approximately every 15 minutes.

For those who can’t make the ceremony, the event will be broadcast live on Rogue Valley Community Television channels 9 and 15. It will also be rebroadcast the same day at 6 p.m. on channel 9.

“Commencement’s just about the happiest time of the year,” says Beaver. “Everybody is looking to the future. The students are very excited about having completed their work and having their lives ahead of them, their careers ahead of them. It’s just a very joyous time.”

For more information about parking and the shuttle service, please visit the commencement website at

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