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SOU awarded $1 million grant

The Bernard Osher Foundation of San Francisco has awarded the Southern Oregon University Foundation a $1 million grant to be used for students restarting their education after a five-year absence.

It's the third $1 million cash grant the Osher Foundation has made to SOU since 2009. The other two were given to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, which offers a variety classes to seniors in the community.

"The Osher Foundation has been incredibly generous to SOU," university President Mary Cullinan said in a press release issued Wednesday. "This scholarship support will transform lives for generations of re-entry students. I am thrilled."

For the past three years, the Osher Foundation has provided SOU with $50,000 annually for re-entry scholarships. The $1 million grant will be put into an endowment, so that about $50,000 in scholarships will continue to be offered to re-entering students each year.

The Osher Foundation defines re-entry students as those who have a cumulative gap in their education of five or more years after high school. Most of SOU's nontraditional students fit this category. Osher scholars must be working on their first undergraduate degree and participate in the Osher Mentorship Program.

"The Osher scholars program at SOU has been enormously successful," said SOU Student Success Initiatives Coordinator Taylor Burke in the press release. "We're projecting a 95 percent graduation rate for the recipients of these scholarships."

The Bernard Osher Foundation, formed in 1977, supports a growing national network of 117 campus-based Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes. It also provides postsecondary scholarship funding to colleges and universities across the nation, with special attention to re-entry students.