SOU to take overflow students from the University of Oregon

The University of Oregon's surplus of students will be channeled to Southern Oregon University under an agreement announced Monday.

The partnership will give qualified freshmen students who are turned away from UO because enrollment is full a chance to take their first two years at SOU.

Students will enroll in both schools under the SOU/UO Dual Program. Those who maintain a 3.0 grade-point average may then transfer to UO their junior year.

"This is a wonderful agreement between University of Oregon and Southern Oregon University that, I think, plays to the strengths of each of the two institutions," said Mary Cullinan, SOU president. "It's something that I think we should be doing as a system in Oregon."

Cullinan said students will benefit from the cheaper, more personable experience that comes from attending a smaller university, while also taking advantage of a broader range of courses and majors offered through UO.

The Eugene university offers more than twice the number of majors as SOU, while SOU offers smaller class sizes.

Last fall, UO accepted 800 to 900 more students than before, said James Bean, UO provost. The university rented an apartment building and turned it into a dormitory to accommodate the overflow. This year, applications are up 20 percent, Bean said.

SOU enrollment has increased about 5 percent, "but we still have a few hundred beds we could fill," Cullinan said.

The program will undergo a two-year trial beginning in fall 2010, but the two universities may jump-start the program with a few students this fall. Students will pay SOU tuition for the first two years to complete their general coursework. Currently, tuition and fees for 15 credits for three terms is about $800 less at SOU than UO.

"There will be a suggested curriculum that will be very closely monitored by the University of Oregon to make sure students have the skills and prerequisites they need to be successful in the major they want to transfer to," said James Klein, SOU provost.

Cullinan said she hopes that after two years at SOU, students will prefer the smaller campus and classes.

"Truthfully, we'll do all we can to keep them here, but we want to make sure they have all the support and all the advising that will enable them to transfer if they want," Cullinan said. "Meanwhile the University of Oregon will stay in touch making them feel like Ducks."

At the start of the program, students will get a UO e-mail account and identification. Students will also have the opportunity to participate in UO activities, sporting and cultural events and special programs while attending SOU.

Cullinan, Klein and Bean will sign a memorandum of understanding today at the UO campus. The memorandum will describe the mechanics of transferring and lay out the benefits for the universities and the students.

"Not everybody can always get in their first-choice institution but this is a great way to serve these students," said Klein.

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