Julia Sommer is no stranger to the influential power of music. From briefly playing cello with the Rogue Valley Symphony to singing with Southern Oregon Repertory Singers since 2006, Julia has found significant joy in music and the performing arts. She performed with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus for many years.
Dale Vidmar’s engagement with SOU spans forty years—first as a student and then as a long-time faculty member in Hannon Library. His early experiences at SOU were pivotal in shaping his worldview and played an important role during his career.
A two-degree alum of SOU, Bernie believed in the powerful opportunity that education offers, especially as he experienced it in SOU’s closely knit and nurturing community.
Our optimism in philanthropic commitments for 2023 materialized remarkably—the dedicated generosity of over 2,600 benefactors set a new record, culminating in $15.4 million in contributions to strengthen the university.
Sue and Mike Collins are driven by a commitment to community, education, and philanthropy. Their journey is a blend of shared experiences, professional accomplishment, and a genuine desire to make a positive impact on the world around them.
Bryan DeBoer ’89, values the deep-rooted significance of a regional public university like SOU. He understands the out-sized role it can play in a geographic region, recognizes the importance of having a thriving school from which to draw future employees, and leans into “the possible” when organizations come together to solve larger issues.
Konaway Nika Tillicum is an overnight academic camp for Native American students in grades 7 to 12 held on SOU’s campus each summer. Students from across the Northwest travel to engage in a range of lectures, cultural experiences, recreational activities, and classes with tribal leaders. For nearly 30 years, this unique program has been making a profound impact on the lives of young Indigenous students, providing them with academic support, cultural understanding, and a strong foundation to navigate the challenges of higher education.
Semi-retired surgeon Ron Worland, M.D., believes that supporting SOU is an investment in the entire southern Oregon region. “This is our university and our community. It is important to support the students because that will beneﬁt every one of us,” said Worland. Ron and his wife Lou created an endowment for student-faculty research and enabled the purchase of state-of-the-art equipment.
It was arguably no surprise to those who knew SOU wrestling coach Bob Riehm that he bequeathed a signiﬁcant portion of his estate to the university’s men’s wrestling program. Riehm had a reputation for generosity. When a wrestler didn’t have money to go to his father’s funeral, Riehm gave the young man a credit card and the keys to his own car to allow him to attend the funeral. That was the kind of coach and person Riehm was to hundreds of student-athletes.
In a single act of giving, Todd Elworthy honored his mother, his grandmother, and his family’s long history of service by creating a ﬁnancial path for motivated ROTC cadets at SOU to complete their degree. “I wanted to make a contribution to education and support students who may not have the means,” said Elworthy.