Southern Oregon Arts & Research

Throughout her senior year at Southern Oregon University, Ashley Baker has researched the correlation between sports injuries and athletes' personalities. Now she is anxiously waiting for a poster illustrating her research to come back from the printer.

"I want everything to look professional," she said.

Baker is just one of many SOU students and faculty preparing to participate in the school's annual Southern Oregon Arts & Research (SOAR) program Tuesday through Thursday, May 18-20. In addition to research presentations, this campuswide event includes art exhibitions, music, dramatic performances and a film festival.

University officials are urging the public to attend, not only to appreciate the talent on display, but to bring insight to the scholarly part of the program.

"A general audience can interrogate our work from a different angle than at a professional conference," said Alma Rosa Alvarez, an SOU English professor. "I received suggestions at my presentation last year that were valuable in continuing my research."

SOAR lifts off with an opening ceremony from noon to 1 p.m. on Tuesday outside the Stevenson Union, where attendees can hear performances by American Indian drummers and the choir group Dulcet.

Then, participants can interact with faculty doing innovative teaching at SOU from 1 to 3 p.m. in Meese Room 305 of the Hannon Library.

Next, at the laboratory open house from 3 to 5 p.m., is a chance to tour various science facilities on campus, plus the Theatre Arts costume shop and the special collections in the library.

The Nursing Simulation Center in Britt Hall 112 will welcome visitors during this time, too.

The first day of SOAR wraps up with a student film festival from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Meese Auditorium of the Art Building.

On Wednesday and Thursday, faculty and student research presentations will be made in Stevenson Union conference rooms and the Meese Room of the library. Presenters include graduating senior Jeffery Proulx, a psychology major, who received a pre-doctoral fellowship from the National Academies of Science — one of just 40 recipients nationwide of this award. His research for SOAR concerns identity and self-esteem issues among American Indians.

From noon to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, music and dramatic performances will be given in the Music Recital Hall. Of special note is a piano recital at 1 p.m. by Joseph Yungen and Daniel Swayze, both recipients of prestigious music awards and students of renowned pianist Alexander Tutonov.

During all three days of the event, art exhibitions are available for viewing in the Stevenson Union Gallery, the Hannon Library and the Center for the Visual Arts.

Upperclassmen such as Baker see participation in the event as a way to enhance their graduate school or job applications.

"Grad school is what I'm using SOAR for," Baker stated.

On the other hand, freshman Esther Mapes said she feels compelled to participate just because she can. She is wondering how her art piece — a puppet dangling from wires attached to a phone receiver — will be regarded.

"I want it to say something about how we are letting technology control our lives," she said.

Those who attend the event shouldn't be surprised if a rookie steals the spotlight, Alvarez noted. "From the beginning of SOAR (in 2008), I have been so excited by the quality of work that our first-year students generate," she said.

Providing students with a forum for their creativity and scholarship is not the only benefit of SOAR, Alvarez pointed out. She also likes how the symposium promotes fellowship among faculty, who often get so locked into their duties during the school year that they are unaware of what their colleagues down the hall, much less across campus, are up to.

"I'm looking forward to finding out what people in different disciplines do, and to meeting the students they are mentoring," she said. She hopes that crowds of curious community members will show up to mingle with the SOU community in this three-day celebration of intellectual and creative endeavors. "It's a great chance to learn about the exciting things that people on our campus are doing," she said.

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