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SOU prepares for annual commencement ceremony

Approximately 850 students will receive degrees at Southern Oregon University's 83rd commencement exercises on Saturday.

The ceremony begins in the Mountain Arena of SOU Raider Stadium at 8:45 a.m. and will be broadcast live on Rogue Valley Community Television channel 15, and rebroadcast the same day at 6 p.m. on cable channel 9.

This year's commencement speaker is SOU alumnus Michael Geisen, the 2008 National Teacher of the Year. Geisen earned a master of arts in teaching from SOU in 2001. Representing the Oregon University System is Rosemary Powers, an OUS trustee. The student speaker will be CheraLynn Renee Sabankaya.

Geisen was named National Teacher of the Year by former President Bush at a White House ceremony in April, 2008. He has been teaching science at Crook County Middle School in Prineville since his graduation from SOU. His students and colleagues describe him as genuine and imaginative.

One of Geisen's recent students said, "I think if he wanted to, he could make watching grass grow interesting," according to a press release.

Powers has been an associate professor of sociology at Eastern Oregon University since 2003. Her major areas of research include education, gender and sexuality, culture and religion. She was appointed to the Oregon Board of Higher Education for a two-year term in 2008.

Sabankaya was chosen by SOU deans to speak on behalf of her graduating class. Sabankaya, who has devoted many hours to volunteer work in service to the homeless and other community members with mental health issues, is graduating with a degree in psychology and a minor in criminology.

In keeping with SOU's commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainability, graduates have been asked to bring their own water containers, which can be filled at water stations provided at convenient locations, instead of being given disposable plastic bottles of water. The Commencement program is printed on recycled paper, and recycling will be encouraged at the end of the ceremony.

University officials are expecting a large number of graduates and guests, so those planning to attend the ceremonies should plan accordingly. The gates will open at 7:15 a.m., and guests are advised to arrive early. Free parking during commencement is available in all parking lots on the SOU campus. A free shuttle service will run from the Mountain Avenue parking lot to the Mountain Arena approximately every 15 minutes.

For a map and other parking information, visit sou.edu/commencement/parksit.html.