Distinguished Member of the Modern SOU Family

On April 7th 2023, Ty Burrell was invited back to SOU to receive the 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award. There has been some trouble behind Burrell’s receiving of the award in the past. Originally selected in 2018, the award was pushed back further and further due to scheduling conflicts and other worldly matters far beyond any individual’s control. Thankfully, Burrell has been able to receive his award to honor his work at SOU and all his work since then.

The Oregon born actor took a tour around the campus with his wife and children, alongside OCA Director David Humphrey and Alumni Relations Director Mike Beagle. During the tour, old friends Miles Inada and Nick Oredson joined alongside Burrell and his family. Their tour traveled throughout the campus, and involved discussions with many faculty members in the EMDA, Theatre, and Digital Cinema pathways. 

Their discussions varied, with some surrounding the different cultures of the entertainment industry–like Hollywood and Theatre in The Big Apple–and others delving into the role of creativity and authenticity in the industry. The discussions even touched on how SOU’s creative career pathways can and have guided students into their corresponding careers.

Alongside the faculty and family, students were chosen by the Theatre and EMDA faculty to join in on the discussions and share their voices and ideas with another active worker in the entertainment industry, and a distinguished alumni. These discussions centered around Burrell’s trek to becoming an actor and SOU’s Theatre program. Burrell would go on to highlight the importance of exploring within the Theatre program and how doing so helped grow his creativity as an artist. For artists in any field–and for people in general–it could never hurt to expand your horizons. Whether it’s learning a new dialect, or how to construct a costume or a set, or how to mix audio, learning a new skill broadens an individual’s understanding of the mechanisms behind an industry like Theatre, as well as its community. 

Burrell encouraged the students to continue exploring other aspects of Theatre and approach all their work with an open mind. With the discussion combining the minds of both Theatre and EMDA students, it brings hope for collaboration between the two pathways with EMDA faculty member Robert Arellano saying this, “Meeting with Ty Burrell gave EMDA and Theatre students a chance to dream together about how digital innovation and performance are growing continuously closer for SOU grads pursuing careers in the arts and entertainment.”

The tour ended in the Jefferson Public Radio building with the award ceremony, where President Bailey presented Burrell with the 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award. 

With the visit of a distinguished SOU alumni, we’re left to wonder who’s getting the next award? Well, maybe some are wondering just that. Some might wonder how to make it big like Burrell. Some might wonder how many exams older alumni had to deal with. Some might be stressing over midterms and graduation. Take some time to wonder, some time to breathe. We’re halfway through the term, so take breaks when you can and relax.

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