10 majors, 12 minors, five professors to be cut in SOU retrenchment

Southern Oregon University may eliminate its international studies, physics and art history majors, among other cuts, President Mary Cullinan told university staff this morning.

The proposed cuts are part of SOU's retrenchment plan and will also include laying off five full-time professors and eliminating numerous minors and certificate options.

"I wish it didn't have to happen," Cullinan said Wednesday. "It's very sad."

Cullinan said the plan is only a proposal and will be subject to a 20 university-day feedback period, where staff can suggest alternative cuts.

Proposed cuts include majors and minors with the fewest number of students, and those that faculty previously ranked as being of lower priority or in need of review and restructure.

The plan includes the elimination of 10 majors, including virtually the entire physics department, and 12 minors, including those in French, musical theater, professional writing, photography, German and land-use planning.

Students with declared majors and minors will be grandfathered out of the programs proposed for cuts, and in some cases might be forced into taking classes online or through independent study, Cullinan said.

Cullinan announced in December that SOU administration would enter retrenchment, a process in which it can cut programs and faculty without breaching the faculty union contract.

The Oregon University System allows retrenchment when it's necessary to achieve a financially stable university.

SOU plans to make between $3 million to $5 million in cuts over the next three years, Cullinan said.

Cutting adjunct professors and increasing class sizes from an average of 17 to 21-22 per class will also happen, she said, but are not part of the retrenchment process.

Cullinan sent an announcement to faculty this morning about the proposed cuts, and believes staff will quickly figure out, based on seniority, which of their colleagues are likely to be on the chopping block.

"People are going to figure it out," said Cullinan. "I think they already have, frankly."

In addition to five full-time professors who would be notified in March that their contract would expire in 12 months, another two vacant positions won't be filled, and other adjunct professors — full- and part-time — would be let go.

During the following two school years, another 12.5 professors and more adjunct faculty would also be cut, according to the proposal.

— Teresa Ristow

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