Final version of SOU Forward realignment plan goes to Board of Trustees
Final revisions have been made to SOU Forward, the four-plank realignment strategy that will be considered for adoption by the SOU Board of Trustees on Friday, April 21. The plan, which was developed over the past several months by SOU leaders and the campus community, is intended to address the university’s current fiscal challenges and position it for long-term success.
Revisions to SOU Forward’s specific cost-management proposals have been based on feedback and recommendations received since an initial version of the plan was introduced in March. The plan’s overall strategy combines cost management with revenue diversification, emphasizing financial viability and strategic growth through four “planks,” or elements:
- Cost management: The plan that will be considered by the Board of Trustees includes reductions equivalent to almost 83 full-time positions. About 24 of those will be achieved through the elimination of current positions; the remainder will come from a combination of job vacancies, retirements, voluntary departures and non-renewable contracts.
- Reimagining grants: SOU is expanding support for faculty and programs seeking funding from external granting agencies and organizations.
- Leveraging philanthropy: The university will maintain an ongoing surge in philanthropic support for SOU, its students and its programs.
- Revenue diversification: SOU will diversify its revenue streams by pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities including solar power production, a senior living center at the site of the Cascade Complex, creation of a new University Business District and transitioning its core information system from Banner to Workday.
The Board of Trustees may ask for further revisions to four-plank realignment strategy before voting on its approval at Friday’s meeting, which begins at noon in the Hannon Library’s Meese Room. If the cost management plan is approved, the timing of reductions will vary, with most achieved by June 2024 or soon thereafter.
The detailed, 43-page SOU Forward plan can be viewed on the Planning for the Future page of the president’s website. Those who have questions about the realignment strategy may submit them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOU leaders have been directed by the Board of Trustees to balance the university’s budget by reducing costs by $3.6 million this year. In addition to current-year cuts, the plan identifies another $9 million in recurring cost reductions.
That process, which began in earnest last October, has aimed for transparency and collaboration, with input from SOU’s shared governance partners – the Associated Students of SOU, Faculty Senate and Staff Assembly – and the unions representing both faculty and classified employees.
The structural flaws in SOU’s fiscal model are the result of a longstanding reliance on the combination of state appropriations and tuition revenue to pay for most operations. The proportion of those two funding sources has flipped in recent decades for all of Oregon’s seven public universities – what used to be about a two-thirds share from the state and one-third from tuition is now the exact opposite.