Recalling the Past, Remembering the Commitment
On November 4, 1872, the Rev. Joseph H. Skidmore, Annie Hill Skidmore and a group of enterprising Ashlanders opened the doors to the Ashland Academy, forerunner of what today is Southern Oregon University.
Higher education in southern Oregon is a history of overcoming challenges:
- 1878 The name was changed to the Ashland Academy and Commercial College
- 1879 It was sold and renamed Ashland College and Normal School.
- 1886 The school closed due to financial trouble.
- 1887 It reopened as the Ashland State Normal School.
- 1890 It closed again due to lack of enrollment.
- 1895 It reopened again as the Southern Oregon State Normal School.
- 1899 The school began to receive state funding.
- 1909 State funding ended and the school closed again.
- 1926 Oregon created and funded a state college system, re-establishing Southern Oregon State Normal School. Ashland residents passed a bond levy to build Churchill Hall.
- 1932 The state changed the name to Southern Oregon Normal School (SONS).
- 1935 SONS Drama Professor Angus Bowmer created the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
- 1939 Renamed Southern Oregon College of Education.
- 1956 Renamed Southern Oregon College.
- 1975 Renamed Southern Oregon State College.
- 1997 Renamed Southern Oregon University.
140 years of higher education have given the region the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, two Oregon Poets Laureate, an Emmy-award winning actor, as well as thousands of teachers, accountants, artists, government and business leaders, entrepreneurs, All-American athletes, and better educated citizens.
A former coach and several SOU alumni and friends recall the history of higher education in Ashland, including: