SOU faculty forgo raises to help offset severe cuts in programs

The faculty at Southern Oregon University say they have agreed to go without salary increases this year and next in an effort to offset cuts proposed across the university.

The Associated Professors of Southern Oregon University, the faculty union, said in a release this morning that it had settled a new two-year contract with university administration which included little or no salary increase for employees.

Faculty members voted to ratify the contract Monday evening.

"We are hopeful that agreeing to no salary increases will allow us to direct more funding toward academic programs, reducing the depth of proposed cuts," said Vicki Purslow, a professor of music, in the release.

The faculty's current contract expired last August, and the union has been bargaining with administration since.

"By settling the faculty contract, Southern Oregon University has a clearer picture of payroll costs and how many people will be laid off," said the release, sent by APSOU President Jim Rible.

University administration announced in November its plan to enter a retrenchment, a process in which they can cut staff and academic programs as they see fit.

A provisional plan released in February included cutting several majors and minors, including the entire physics department, and laying off 12.5 professors over the next few years.

Some faculty members have expressed concern about the proposed cuts, questioning the ability of President Mary Cullinan and other administrators.

"There are ongoing concerns about the ability of current leadership to lead the university through this planning process and back into fiscal health," said today's release.

The faculty has spent the last week participating in a confidential vote of confidence or no confidence in university administration.

If a majority of faculty members vote they are not confident in university leadership, the Faculty Senate could make a recommendation to the Oregon University System to remove university administrators from their posts.

The results of the vote are expected to be released Monday.

— Teresa Ristow

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