SOU has gone through many monikers
Congratulations to the SOU football team on its recent NAIA national championship! As a former graduate of Southern Oregon College I was hoping you could provide some additional information on our great local university. I believe our current university was first called Southern Oregon Normal School, but also has had many other names. Can you shed a little light on this? — Larry B., Medford
Larry, first of all, we apologize for condensing your original question. We will answer a second part of it in another thrilling intallment of Since You Asked. But for now, we're trying to avoid cutting down the world's rain forests to provide the newsprint needed to answer all your questions. So here's the shorter answer.
Ryan Brown, who heads up community and media relations for SOU and came to our aid on this, says he tracked down the various names used by the campus, and it goes back even further than you did. He got his information from the book "Remembering: A History of Southern Oregon University" by Arthur Kreisman, published in 2002 by University of Oregon Press.
The book says that the school's various names through the years, have been: 1872, Ashland Academy; 1878, Ashland Academy and Commercial College; 1879, Ashland College and Normal School; 1887, Ashland State Normal School; 1895, Southern Oregon State Normal School; 1932, Southern Oregon Normal School; 1939, Southern Oregon College of Education; 1956, Southern Oregon College; 1975, Southern Oregon State College and, finally, 1997-present, Southern Oregon University.
According to the book, the name change from Southern Oregon State Normal School to just Southern Oregon Normal School was apparently sparked by newspapers shortening the name, then later officially adopted by the state board of education. In 1938, Southern Oregon Normal School received full accreditation from the American Association of Teachers Colleges and a bill was passed and signed into law in 1939 changing the name to Southern Oregon College of Education. During the 1954-1955 academic year, the curriculum included graduate-level work in areas other than education for the first time. In 1956 the name was changed to Southern Oregon College, indicating that it was no longer only a school of education.The final name change to Southern Oregon University was signed into law by Gov. John Kitzhaber in 1997, when the names of Southern, Western and Eastern Oregon state universities were all changed to reflect their expanded academic offerings.
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