How big of a fan of Southern Oregon University (SOU) is two-time alumnus Randy McElmurry? The answer is: huge.
“I was a non-traditional student, so I was a little bit late to the game for my bachelor’s degree, which was in innovation and leadership,” he said. “I went up to the state capital to do some lobbying for SOU.”
He and another student in the program joined the provost and school president in Salem to meet with state legislatures.
“We got to be on the floor then meet with senators in their offices to talk about funding for non-traditional schooling and how to get more money back to state universities to provide these services.”
That trip also led McElmurry to further his own education via SOU’s online Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a Concentration in Healthcare Administration program. He graduated in May 2022.
“I met Dr. René Ordonez, the coordinator for the online MBA program, when they were starting to roll it out,” he said. “I talked to him on that trip to get a feel for what the MBA program might look like. I knew I was going to need an MBA to take that next step in my career.
“When I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, I knew if I took a break, coming back to school would be hard. I decided to roll right into it. I applied, got in and was off to the races. It was very convenient.”
McElmurry is an information technology services manager for project management and application administration at Asante in Medford, Oregon. He has worked for the company for 12 years.
“I manage a team of project managers tackling all sorts of issues,” he said. “I’ve been in a lot of different spots in the healthcare system. I hope that the MBA will lead to big things down the road.”
McElmurry is from Roseburg, Oregon. He took an unconventional route into the healthcare field after dropping out of community college following his first year.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and I didn’t want to pay for it if I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” he said. “I took the opportunity to go back home.
“My buddy’s aunt was working in human resources at a temp agency. There was a job at the local hospital early in the morning pushing a big linen cart — probably 400 pounds. I was 19, big and strong. It was perfect. I took the job because nobody wanted it.”
Throughout the ups and downs of the economy in the 2000s, McElmurry maintained his job. He moved into shipping, receiving and purchasing, and then the operating room to train as a sterile processing tech and a little bit as a surgical tech. That led him to a job at Asante as a sterile processing tech.
“That’s where I started moving through an accelerated timeline into management,” he said. “Now, I am managing IT project services.”
McElmurry’s favorite course in the online MBA in Healthcare Administration program curriculum was Managerial Accounting, taught by Dennis Slattery.
“Dennis is one of my all-time favorite instructors,” he said. “He takes a difficult, thick subject like accounting and tries to bring fun and spontaneity to it. He’s the type of instructor who brings inspiration to a subject a lot of people struggle with.”
The applicability of the information McElmurry learned in the MBA program to his career took him by surprise. He graduated from SOU with his bachelor’s degree in 2019.
“I was in a lead position in the department when I started my undergrad,” he said. “I moved into several different management positions within the same organization while in school.
“I was able to apply what I was learning in real time. As a non-traditional student, it’s less conceptual and academic and more practical.”
McElmurry is the first person in his immediate family to earn an advanced degree. His wife, Melissa, is also an SOU alum and recently earned a master’s degree, too. They have two daughters — Bailey (16) and Brinnan (11).
“My parents didn’t go to college, so I wanted my kids to see what it looked like,” he said. “I wanted them to see that hard things are possible. If you set your mind to it and are serious, you can get it done.
“I want them to do it before they become non-traditional students because it’s a lot harder when you have kids. We did our homework together. I loved school, but I am ready not to have school for a while. It’s been eight years.”
With two degrees and some lobbying experience to his credit, McElmurry wants to continue to make a difference in the world.
“My ultimate career goal is to be able to affect positive change within the communities I am in,” he said. “The way to best serve the community is to continue on to an executive role where I can help set strategy.
“I have a knowledge base for the different ways health systems, specifically hospitals, operate. I can contribute to the success of the community in driving healthcare forward.”
McElmurry, an avid golfer and proud SOU alum, believes that the online MBA in Healthcare Administration program is ideal for healthcare leaders looking to further their education.
“You are going to get what you put into it,” he said. “It’s a program geared for working professionals, but it pushes you to be better. It gets you prepared for the real world.
“It’s hard to find an online MBA with a healthcare administration focus. The SOU faculty members teaching those courses are excellent. If you’re looking for an MBA specifically with a healthcare admin focus, you aren’t going to find anything better than what you’re going to find at SOU — especially online.”
Learn more about SOU’s online MBA in Healthcare Administration program.