President Mary Cullinan to Receive Prestigious Leadership Award

The Council for the Advancement and Support of Education praises Cullinan for leading SOU through four years of painful yet inspirational transformation

(Ashland, Ore.) – The Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) District VIII has named SOU President Mary Cullinan the recipient of its 2011 Leadership Award. President Cullinan will receive the award at the District VIII conference in Vancouver, BC, February 25. District VIII is the largest of CASE’s eight North American districts geographically, encompassing the western Canadian provinces and territories in addition to Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana in the Pacific Northwest.

In his endorsement of President Cullinan for the award, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski wrote, “Southern Oregon University has been transformed under Dr. Cullinan’s leadership. When she arrived, the institution was struggling with declining enrollment and budget challenges. Dr. Cullinan was willing to make hard choices to re-structure the university, maintaining the respect and participation of the faculty and staff. More recently, she has created a forward-thinking strategic plan to guide the University’s future. Today, SOU is positioned as the public liberal arts university of the West, providing exceptional undergraduate and graduate education that is affordable and accessible.”

“But perhaps her greatest achievement to date,” writes Oregon University System Chancellor George Pernsteiner, “has been her relentless pursuit of a strategy that would reverse a decade-long decline in enrollment.”

“She was steadfast in her efforts and unshakeable in her belief that Southern Oregon University would offer a pre-eminent education for undergraduate students,” says Pernsteiner.  “The president’s prudent financial management, coupled with this year’s strong enrollment, signal that the university should be able to weather even the extraordinarily severe reductions in state support forecast for next year.”

In November, SOU announced record enrollment numbers including a 26 percent overall increase over the previous year, a 46 percent increase in Hispanic students, and record student retention numbers.

“Awarding the CASE District VIII Leader of the Year in our district is always difficult, but this year was especially challenging,” says Ray Au of the University of Alberta and the district’s current chair. “The pool of candidates received was among the largest and strongest we’ve had in years. So by selecting President Cullinan for this award, it truly speaks to the caliber of work she is doing at Southern Oregon University and for the community it serves. We are fortunate to have her in our district.”

Dr. Cullinan came to SOU as President in September 2006. Prior to that she served as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Stephen F. Austin State University; Dean of the College of Arts, Letters and Sciences at California State University, Stanislaus; and Professor, Department Chair, and Director of the Office of Faculty Development and the Faculty Center for Excellence in Teaching at California State University, Hayward (now CSU East Bay). Dr. Cullinan earned her bachelor’s degree magna cum laude in Honors English from the University of Pennsylvania, and her master’s and doctoral degrees in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

The CASE District VIII Leadership Award has been given since 1993. Previous recipients include President John Byrne of Oregon State University in 1994, President Dave Frohnmayer of the University of Oregon in 2000, and President Peter O. Kohler of Oregon Health & Science University in 2004.

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