Outstanding Alumni Recognized at Commencement

Several Southern Oregon University alumni were honored at the 2018 commencement ceremony for their accomplishments since graduating from the university.

Steven Nelson, who graduated from SOU with bachelor’s and master’s degrees, was recognized with a posthumous President’s Medal. Nelson, a financial advisor and former banker, served nearly 20 years as a volunteer leader at Jefferson Public Radio and the JPR Foundation. His work contributed to JPR’s growth and expansion, restoration projects at the Cascade Theatre in Redding and the Holly Theatre in Medford, and the development of the radio station’s new home in the SOU Theater Building.

Jeff Brady, who earned his SOU bachelor’s degree in communication in 1995, is a national desk correspondent in Philadelphia, focusing on energy issues for National Public Radio. The university recognized Brady with the Distinguished Alumni Award. He is credited with helping to demystify an industry that can seem complicated to many listeners and to establish NPR’s Environment and Energy Collaborative for reporters at NPR member stations around the country.

Amanda MacGurn, a 2006 French language and culture graduate at SOU, was recognized with the Young Alumni Award. MacGurn taught English in Costa Rica and Chile before joining the Peace Corps and ultimately earning her master’s degree in public health from Emory University. MacGurn is a border health technical advisor in the Center for Disease Control’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, where she has worked since 2014.

Betsy Bishop received her undergraduate degree from Catholic University in Washington, D.C., before earning her master’s degree in teaching at SOU in 1977. An English and theatre teacher at Ashland High School since 1988, Bishop has maintained a 25-year school and business partnership with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. She also has been recognized with four statewide teaching awards and two national awards. Bishop was presented with the university’s Alumni Award for Excellence in Education.

Malcus Williams, who died in March while on a call for the Ashland Police Department, received a posthumous Stan Smith Alumni Service Award. He became a reserve officer and then was sworn in as a full-time Ashland Police officer in 1996. Williams, who completed his degree in criminology and criminal justice in 2008 while serving as a full-time officer, served as a school resource officer, firearms instructor, patrol officer, sergeant and Citizen’s Academy diversity instructor.

Tim Williams was a forward on the nationally ranked SOU basketball team of the late 1990s before earning his bachelor’s degree in criminology in 1999 and then a law degree at the University of Oregon School of Law in 2003. Williams, who was presented a Stan Smith Alumni Service Award, is a partner in the firm of Dwyer Williams Dretke Attorneys. Recognized as one of the best trial lawyers in the country, Williams also has served on the board of directors of the Ronald McDonald House of Central Oregon, the Sparrow Clubs of Central Oregon and other nonprofit organizations.