SOU will start cutting programs, faculty in 'retrenchment' process

Southern Oregon University President Mary Cullinan today announced the university will enter retrenchment, a process in which the administration can cut programs and faculty without breaching contract with the faculty union.

"All our very conservative assumptions and the recommendation of the Budget Committee leads me to declare that we do, indeed, have a condition requiring reduction or elimination of academic programs," Cullinan told about 160 people packed into the Meese Auditorium at SOU today.

She said SOU will look to trim $3 million to $5 million over the next three years through retrenchment.

"Losing valued colleagues will be a very hard process," she said.

Oregon University System rules allow retrenchment when it's necessary to achieve a financially and academically viable institution. It allows the administration to cut or reassign faculty as it sees fit and eliminate some academic programs.

Many of those who attended the campus forum were faculty members at SOU.

"Retrenchment is the only option for SOU," Cullinan said. "It will enable us to sustain and advance our university, offer our students a high quality, affordable education, and serve our regional mission.

"The new landscape offers less certainty about enrollment and state funding, and a greater certainty that only through affordable tuition can we keep SOU accessible for Oregonians. We need resources to support and enhance in-demand degree programs and help students stay in school and earn a degree."

In the collective bargaining agreement between the university and its Association of Professors union, Cullinan's announcement sets off a comment period allowing input on retrenchment plans that ends Jan. 16. Comments may be made at

— Sam Wheeler

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