Stories of Philanthropic Impact

Lithia & GreenCars pledge historic commitment

Southern Oregon University and Medford-based Lithia Motors announced in September of 2022 a philanthropic partnership that will serve as the bedrock of future innovations at SOU. Lithia’s commitment exceeds $12 million and is the largest-ever single gift to the university. The contributions from Lithia Motors (NYSE: LAD) create the Lithia & GreenCars Momentum Fund, which will be used “to propel the university forward by investing in people and programs to implement the university’s and the company’s shared vision of sustainability and diversity.” The fund will also become a catalyst to invite other companies and individuals to participate in making a significant difference in both social and environmental change.

Chemical Bonds

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.

Legendary Wrestling Coach Creates Legacy

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.

Family Tradition Inspires ROTC Scholarship

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.

Bridging the Gap

SOU’s Bridge Program makes going to college and earning adegree possible for many students who cannot see higher education in their future. The program, designed to help Oregon students successfully transition to college, is specifically geared for students who are traditionally under-represented in higher education.

A Learning Legacy

Before George “Keith” Bayne passed away last year, he endowed the Alice Bayne Scholarship in Education, ensuring that his late wife would be remembered and that their shared love of learning would continue to encourage and support future educators.
Carol and Blair Moody photo
Taylor Burke photo