Southern Oregon University Awarded $6.6 Million for Campus and Educational Upgrades

ASHLAND, Ore. — Southern Oregon University (SOU) will receive the biggest slice of the funding pie awarded by the Legislature for state-wide government entity capital projects. The university will receive $6 million for ongoing upgrades to its on-campus Central Hall and $666,667 to build a master’s degree program in clinical mental health counseling.


Legislatures Funding Decisions are “Pivotal” for SOU

SOU President Rick Bailey says in a news release that lawmakers funding decisions are “pivotal” not only for the university, but for the “entire Southern Oregon region.” Referring to the university’s new master’s degree initiative, Bailey expressed delight that lawmakers have rewarded SOU’s “innovative approaches” and that the institution is taking action to become financially sustainable.

The funding is proof that SOU is reaping the benefits of working closely with delegates of the local legislature, says Bailey.


New Master’s Degree

In addition to the $666,667 granted by the Legislature during its recent short session, the university secured an additional $1.8 million last month from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to expand its master’s degree program. The university will use the grant to increase the program capacity from 40 to 60 students.

The SOU program addresses the critical shortage of behavioral healthcare practitioners throughout the state, and is optimistic that the OHA grant will attract more students to its Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) master’s degree program next fall when a subsidy program is introduced. SOU will offer $18,000 per student and tuition assistance of $5,000 for up to three terms. An additional $1,000 stipend each term will also be included.

There is a critical shortage of mental health caregivers throughout Oregon and SOU is confident that by expanding its master’s degree program the university will help to solve the problem. As Oregon’s communities become increasingly diverse, the CMHC degree will prepare students to become ethical and competent counselors to provide much-needed mental health services throughout the state.

The master’s degree curriculum meets national and state standards, enabling graduates to seek work anywhere in the U.S. The CMHC program is also recognized by the Oregon Board of Licensed Professional Counselors and Therapists and is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.


Central Hall Upgrades

The $6 million funding will cover the cost of Phase 4 of the on-campus Central Hall that includes classrooms, study areas, a computer laboratory, the interior design and completion of the second floor, the installation of rooftop solar panels, and landscaping and charging stations.

On-campus upgrades began in 2022 with interior demolition work, the redesign and renovation of the basement and first floor, as well as an electrical, HVAC, life-safety, mechanical and seismic upgrade. The entire project is earmarked for completion towards the end of 2025.



SOU Central Hall upgrade is the only one of seven public Oregon universities to receive funding for a capital project.

Lawmakers set aside $63 million in bond financing for proposed projects by statewide  government entities.



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