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SOU starts today with new offerings

Local report

Fall classes at Southern Oregon University will begin today, and the start of a new academic year also brings new leadership, programs and services.

With the phasing out of the Oregon University System, this will be the first academic year in which SOU will be overseen by a local board of trustees. The university's interim president, Roy Saigo, will continue to direct school operations, as the board considers extending his contract, which was due to expire in 2016. Saigo replaced Mary Cullinan in June 2014 after she resigned to become president at Eastern Washington University.

New this year at SOU is a bachelor of fine arts degree in creative writing that was approved by the Higher Education Coordinating Commission over the summer. A creative writing minor and concentration had previously been available within the Department of English and Writing, but a recent academic restructuring at SOU placed creative writing under the purview of the Oregon Center for the Arts at SOU.

Among the new offerings at SOU this fall is the pilot “Bridge” program, designed to support first-generation college students, second language learners, students from low-income families, and underserved minority groups in order to improve their chances of remaining in school. The program includes a tuition-free, yearlong course that began prior to the academic year. The pilot program, which is being offered to 20 students this year, has plans to extend invitations next year to more state and local high school seniors.

Classes begin today on both SOU’s main campus in Ashland and the Higher Ed Center in downtown Medford.