SOU President formalizes need for “retrenchment” to meet fiscal and student needs

Ashland, OR – December 5, 2013: Southern Oregon University president Mary Cullinan made the formal announcement today that the university needs to make academic program reductions to ensure its long-term fiscal strength and student affordability. Termed “retrenchment,” the formal move enables the faculty contract to be opened so that a process of eliminating and reducing programs can begin.

The retrenchment announcement came this morning during a University forum at which Dr. Cullinan as well as faculty senate president Dave Carter and student body president Tommy Letchworth addressed faculty, staff, and students on the need to cut programs in order to balance the budget and reinvest in core programs.

“Retrenchment is the only option for SOU,” said Cullinan. “It will enable us to sustain and advance our university, offer our students a high quality, affordable education, and serve our regional mission. The new landscape offers less certainty about enrollment and state funding, and a greater certainty that only through affordable tuition can we keep SOU accessible for Oregonians. We need resources to support and enhance in-demand degree programs and help students stay in school and earn a degree.”

The next step of the retrenchment process is to develop a provisional plan that provides a draft of program eliminations and reductions. The plan, to be released in January, will be consistent with SOU’s mission and reflect academic needs and enrollment priorities, but also enable the university to meet its budgetary goals. The campus community has a 15 university-day period in which to provide their comments for consideration in the final plan.

“Losing valued faculty members will be the hardest part of this process,” said Cullinan. “Because of the length and nature of this process, those whose programs face reduction or elimination will know well in advance, so they will have preparation time and help from SOU with their transition.

“SOU is incredibly important to present and future generations of students. Our university is vital to this region and to the state of Oregon. We need to do what is best for the short and long term. This means cutting low-enrollment, low-demand programs and retargeting resources so that SOU remains affordable and provides the programs student need most.”

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