Print this ArticlePrint this Article Email this ArticleEmail this Article
Text Size: A | A | A

25 faculty positions will be eliminated under SOU retrenchment

 Posted: 11:05 AM March 14, 2014

The international studies and fine arts majors will be spared at Southern Oregon University, but all other proposed retrenchment cuts will happen, according to the final plan released this morning.

The two majors were saved by convincing arguments that they wouldn't save the university sizeable money, said President Mary Cullinan.

The university plans to eliminate the physics program but potentially reinstate it with a more concentrated focus that works better with regional employers. Cullinan said the university received more than 70 comments from scientists, instructors and local business owners about the proposed cut.

"We'll consider bringing physics back in a way that works," said Cullinan.

Just 31 students had declared one of five physics concentrations available in fall 2013, and there were no physics graduates last year.

Cullinan said the director of the school's new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) division will work with current and emeritus faculty and local employers to try to reinvent the physics program.

The rest of the cuts in last month's provisional plan will move forward, Cullinan said, saving the university $7.8 million in one-time savings, and $6.1 million in annual permanent savings.

Eventually, permanent faculty will be reduced by 12.58 full-time equivalent positions, not including retirements, which Cullinan said will be carefully considered at the division level.

An additional 12.5 adjunct faculty will be eliminated over the next three years, 22.5 FTE faculty are planning to retire over the next four years, and another 10 are anticipated to retire.

Including permanent and adjunct faculty and planned and anticipated retirements, SOU's faculty is expected to decrease by 60.9 FTE between now and 2018, bringing the student to faculty ratio from 17 to 1 to 21 to 1.

A proposed "very worst case" scenario originally included in the retrenchment plan has been removed, after faculty expressed that including the most extreme scenario brought up too much controversy.

"It was so distracting," said Cullinan.

She made an agreement with faculty that if enrollment and funding do take a substantial dip, the university can revisit the possibility of more extreme cuts at that time.

"It's extremely unlikely, though," Cullinan said.

Over the next few years, seven majors and three co-majors, 11 minors, two certificates, and eight major concentrations will be phased out.

These include the physics program, majors in art history and French and minors in geology, geography and photography.

Faculty losing their positions will be given a one-year notice if their position is being eliminated.

Majors facing elimination will be taught out, most over the next two years. Students wishing to declare a major facing elimination must declare by April 1.

—Teresa Ristow

Reader Reaction
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form. New comments are only accepted for two weeks from the date of publication.