SOU President calls for “Retrenchment”

By Tashina Stillmaker

November 5th, Southern Oregon University president Mary Cullinan announced that SOU is going to be opening discussion concerning academic program reductions that may need to go into effect to ensure the stability of the university.

At the State of the University address, Cullinan explained in order to cut low enrollment programs and meet the requirements set out by the faculty union the school has to declare “retrenchment” to open and begin the process of eliminating programs.

“In a world of diminishing resources, SOU, like thousands of schools around the country, must make tough decisions in order to focus on priorities,” explained Cullinan in a transcript of her speech which was delivered to The Siskiyou.

“We absolutely need to invest in the initiatives that keep students enrolled, the initiatives that help them be successful now and in the future,” said Cullinan.

In Oregon, the economy has shifted its state allocations for public universities. For example, Cullinan referenced the fact that in the 2011-13 biennium, SOU’s state allocation was $13 million dollars less than it had been in 1999-2001. Today, SOU enrolls approximately 800 more students than it did in 1999.

“Enrollment remains one of SOU’s most challenging issues,” explained Cullinan. “In the short run, we still need to make up a shortfall of about $4 million in permanent dollars. No one is going to bail us out. We need to do this together…The term retrenchment is a technical one necessitated by the faculty union contract in order to make the programmatic changes we need to make. But it also defines what we have to do: get into the trenches, rework our academic program offerings, and do so decisively and strategically. ”

After declaring entrenchment Tuesday, the University will go into a fifteen day period of time in which the president and the union will open discussion to the campus community regarding whether and to what extent such reductions, reconfiguration and eliminations are necessary.

The discussion will close November 26th, and comments can be submitted to declarecomments@sou.edu.

“I want to stress that this comment period is not about what areas or programs might be eliminated, reduced, or reconfigured. It’s not about what might be eliminated. It’s about whether and to what extent you believe reductions are necessary in order to have a fiscally sustainable institution in the near and long term,” stated the president.

For more information including official transcripts and video of Cullinan’s address, visit http://stateoftheuniversity.sou.edu/

Correction: the original article contained an error regarding the $13 million state allocation figure. The university’s state allocation is $13 million less than it was in 1999-2001. We apologize for this error.

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