Southern Oregon University will initiate a new tradition this weekend, when the institution's inaugural alumni breakfast takes place prior to commencement Saturday morning.
“This event provides an opportunity to recognize the contributions of several outstanding SOU alumni on a day when we are also celebrating our current graduates,” said Janet Fratella, vice president of development and executive director of the SOU Foundation. “Our new alumni will join 40,000 other SOU graduates who live and work around the world, and we are proud of all that they do.”
Five alumni awards will be given out during the breakfast:
• The Distinguished Alumni Award will be presented to Gary Miller. Miller is an SOU business graduate from the class of 1968. He is recognized for his 32-year career as area manager for U.S. West and Qwest, as well as his volunteer work around the Rogue Valley. He is former CEO of Access, Inc., which provides food, housing and other services to low-income children, families, seniors and people with disabilities. He has served on various local boards and is a past president of the Medford Rotary Club and the Miles Field Renovation Society.
• The Young Alumni Award will be presented to Brandi Jo Moles. Moles graduated from SOU in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and began a career as a child welfare caseworker for the state of Oregon. In 2015 she received statewide recognition as a recipient of the Tom Moan Memorial Award for Excellence in Child Welfare Casework Practice. Last weekend she received her Master of Science degree in social work from Portland State University.
• The Alumni Excellence in Education Award will be presented to Patti Kinney. Kinney graduated from SOU in 1973 with a Bachelor’s Degree in elementary education. She then earned a Master of Science degree in general studies with an emphasis in outdoor education in 1977. In 2007 she was awarded the Oregon Middle Level Association’s first Distinguished Service Award — an award that was named in her honor. She has earned various awards for her work as a school administrator, including the Met-Life/National Association of Secondary School Principals National Middle Level Principal of the Year Award.
• The Stan Smith Alumni Service Award will be presented to Karen Amarotico. The Alumni Service Award recognizes alumni who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to the community and service to people. Amarotico earned a Bachelor’s Degree in business administration from SOU in 1990 and a Master’s Degree in management in 2008. Since moving to Ashland in 1986, Amarotico has logged hundreds of hours volunteering for a range of nonprofit organizations, including Rotary, SMART, Ashland Schools Foundation and the Elks. In 2011, Karen began a year-long project in pie baking to express her gratitude. For 365 days, she chose a friend, neighbor, or stranger who she knew could use a pick-me-up and baked them a pie.
• The Alvin Fellers Memorial Scholarship will also be awarded for the first time during the Alumni Breakfast. Dr. Alvin Fellers’ distinguished career in education spanned more than 40 years, nearly half of which were as dean of men and dean of students at SOU (then Southern Oregon State College). This new scholarship recognizes students who have demonstrated the characteristics and qualities of Dr. Fellers: a warm, friendly demeanor; extraordinary professionalism and integrity; and a devotion to human values. The inaugural recipients of this scholarship are Kaylin Murdoch, Andria Rasmussen and Myana Dhenin.
Also being recognized at the breakfast and commencement ceremony are SOU alumni celebrating their golden anniversary. Fourteen members of the class of 1966 will be on hand for the breakfast and commencement ceremony to follow.