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Liz Shelby, Chief of Staff and Director of Government Relations
Plan reinvests in growth and cuts low enrollment, low demand programs to meet budget targets
Ashland, OR – March 14, 2014: Southern Oregon University released today the final retrenchment plan for the university. The plan eliminates a number of academic programs to ensure the long-term fiscal strength of the institution. Programs targeted for cuts have low enrollment, attracting few students and producing very few graduates, or are not currently meeting the needs of the regional workforce.
SOU president Mary Cullinan said, “I am very proud of our campus for pulling together as a community to solve our budget issues. This is a solid, realistic plan. It will enable SOU to focus resources in areas that are in demand and are core to our mission and student success.”
This final retrenchment plan lays out a process to achieve SOU’s overall goal of financial sustainability: a 5% fund balance, or reserve, by the end of the 2013-15 biennium, and a 10% fund balance by the end of the 2015-17 biennium. The plan calls for $6.2 million in permanent savings and $7.8 million in one-time savings.
“The hardest part of this process is seeing a number of our talented faculty leave SOU,” said Cullinan. “Because the retrenchment plan is phased in over a few years, faculty will get at least a year’s notice so they have time to plan for their next opportunity. Nonetheless, they will be a loss to our university.”
Implementation of the plan eventually reduces permanent faculty lines by 13 FTE, and increases over time the overall student/faculty ratio from 17:1 to 21:1. The retrenchment plan specifically focuses on reductions in academic programs. It does not impact financial aid, student life, or other areas of the university.
Majors and minors considered for reduction or elimination will continue to offer courses in the discipline. The programs being phased out graduate fewer than 10 students a year. Majors being eliminated include Art History and French. The current Physics major will be suspended, and SOU will review establishing a new, more contemporary Physics program that aligns with current workforce demand. Photography, Professional Writing, and Film Techniques are among the minors that will be eliminated.
Current SOU students need to declare by April 1st to be included in the teach-out process. Students with questions about affected programs should contact the Provost’s Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 541-552- 6114. “We’re committed to all our students being able to complete their degrees if they are in affected programs,” added Cullinan.
A recent appropriation of $500,000 by the legislature to SOU will be used to make strategic investments in student success during the retrenchment process.
Dr. Cullinan said, “I look forward to beginning a strong strategic planning process that will move us forward. We need to reinvest in our strengths and in our students. They’re the foundation of this outstanding university.”
Please visit http://stateoftheuniversity.sou.edu for the complete plan and supporting documents.
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