SOU president acknowledges faculty frustration that led to no-confidence vote

Embattled Southern Oregon University President Mary Cullinan told an Ashland gathering today that she believed a Faculty Senate no-confidence vote in her administration was the result of years of disruptive changes.

Cullinan attributed the vote to widespread frustration over eliminating classes, a new higher education governance system, re-organization and bargaining with faculty — all coming after years of declining state financial support.

"We're working our way through it all," Cullinan told a meeting of the Ashland Rotary Club. "There's a lot of turmoil right now and people are feeling very stressed and sensitive. The Senate has the ability to state their level of confidence in me and I can understand it.

In November, Cullinan announced that the university would begin a retrenchment process that allows administration to cut programs and eliminate professors without breaching the faculty union contract. She has said SOU will need to trim from $3.3 million to $5 million from its budget over the next three years.

Cullinan said she was working with David Carter, president of the Faculty Senate, to address staff concerns.

"It's a challenging and difficult time," she conceded.

In the vote, 63 percent of the Senate Faculty expressed no-confidence in Cullinan, while 71 percent voted against Vice President of Finance and Administration Craig Morris and 76 percent against Provost Jim Klein.

Cullinan did not mention the vote in her half-hour speech, instead lauding the school's advances and new construction and the work of students on community projects. But she addressed it when asked a question from the audience following her talk.

— John Darling

Read more in Friday's Daily Tidings.

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