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Southern Oregon University

President Cullinan's Speech

Building A Sustainable Southern Oregon University

January 22, 2007

Slide 1- Building a Sustainable SOU


Good afternoon. I am up here again—this time to present a provisional plan aimed at building a sustainable Southern Oregon University. I will outline this plan in broad strokes. More details will follow on my web site and in upcoming campus forums.


SLIDE 2-President’s web site


This plan is an OUTLINE for achieving savings in academic and non-academic areas over the next three years. The plan will allow us to align our expenditures with our revenues and rebuild our reserves. For Academic Affairs, this provisional plan is a work in progress that has been and will continue to be informed by your comments, ideas, and suggestions.


Please view this as a starting point from which we can work together to build a realistic scenario for our future. Yes, there are painful reductions in all areas of our operation. But, through this pain, we will make progress in putting SOU on a path to sustainability. We need your creativity and your commitment more than ever as we move forward through this process.


Slide 3 –Reduction Targets


This slide shows the budget reduction targets each vice president was asked to meet in order to achieve $4 million in savings. The targets were based on a percentage of each area’s expenses within the general fund budget. The targets required each vice president to make tough choices about how we do business and how we ultimately need to change the way we are doing business in order to serve our students.


As you can see, with this provisional plan, we have come very close to these difficult targets. I want to thank personally each of the vice presidents and the deans and directors for their thoughtful work in bringing us to this point. As you know, the vice presidents in the non-academic areas have already begun meeting their savings targets through a combination of lay offs, freezing of vacant positions and travel, energy conservation, and changing the way we deliver some services.


Student Affairs folks are streamlining processes that will allow us to create a better model for recruiting and retaining students. They are committed to a friendlier, more efficient approach to registration, admissions, financial aid, and student support. When all these changes are in effect, we will have a very effective and efficient model that will please students, staff, and faculty alike.


As we discussed ideas in open forums across campus, we were given more suggestions that we hope to incorporate into our final plan. For example, Finance and Administration is already working on an idea presented in one forum to move to more sustainable landscape plantings. While also bringing us long-term savings, xeriscape is a concept that fits in with our vision of a more sustainable SOU.


In addition, Finance and Administration is also investigating the cost savings of going to a paperless payroll system--another suggestion from your comments. Ideas such as these have helped frame our thinking in these past few weeks. Please keep contributing positive suggestions to our process.


Slide 4-College of Arts and Sciences

o      Achieves academic administrative efficiencies

o      Fosters interdisciplinary synergies

o      Integrates theory and practical application


Thanks to the creativity and energy of many campus groups, we now have a clearer direction on achieving synergies and savings in the academic areas. During the comment period, a seed was planted that has now grown into an exciting new model for a College of Arts and Sciences. This model would enable us to make reductions while preserving the integrity of our programs, the quality of our teaching, and the commitment to our students It will enable students to have a clear path to graduation and will include majors and programs that meet their areas of interest and respond to regional needs.


The new college will combine our three schools, Arts and Letters, Social Sciences, and Sciences, into one unit that preserves disciplinary rigor while creating new opportunities for interdisciplinary work and for intellectual and civic engagement. The new college will allow us to infuse even more effectively our commitment to liberal arts education into the arts, humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences.


Through this college we will harness our best teaching into an interdisciplinary environment where our student artists come to know the sciences, and our student scientists and social scientists appreciate the arts and humanities. Students will approach real-world problems in the way people have to approach them in the real world. In creating this new College of Arts and Sciences, we begin a blueprint for an approach to teaching and learning that will be a key characteristic of SOU.


I hope you will see this as an exciting change for SOU. In creating this College of Arts and Sciences, we will achieve a savings—while also helping students transition even more successfully from the classroom to the workplace with key leadership, communication, and problem solving skills.  The deans have worked on some possible configurations for departments or clusters within this college, but more work, with more input from a variety of constituencies, still needs to be done.


In the Schools of Business and Education, we have made adjustments so we can pursue new revenue-generating opportunities and also achieve seamless transfer opportunities from RCC to SOU. In Medford, we are introducing a new Saturday MBA program in response to community requests. This program fills a great need and has excellent potential for generating revenues. We are also beginning a new online program in Accounting.


In Education, we are extending a partnership with RCC that will introduce an undergraduate initial teacher licensure program in early childhood and elementary education--also with revenue-generating potential.


By moving forward with a College of Arts and Sciences and by aggressively marketing new offerings in our Schools of Business and Education, we can preserve our focus on the liberal arts, retool our commitment to career preparation, and put SOU in a position to provide a better living and learning environment for students. There are other exciting ideas out there for curricular planning that will engage and attract students as we build and plan for the future.


However, we still need to face the pain of sizing our institution to the current enrollment.

Although the details and implementation of this provisional plan need to be worked out over the coming weeks, the plan includes reductions of about 24 faculty lines. With additional administrative savings found in academic areas and the administrative layoffs announced previously, this provisional plan includes a total reduction of about 30.5 administrator/staff positions A number of these are vacancies or retirements, but not all.


As I told you a few weeks ago, we pursued cost-cutting plans as far as we could without cutting or eliminating programs. Unfortunately, our budget reality forces us down a difficult path. Thoughtful criteria endorsed by UPC were used to determine which programs would be considered for reduction and/or elimination. The criteria used also address the concerns laid out in the APSOU contract. In every instance, careful consideration was given to the mission and goals of SOU as well as to a balance of savings and the needs of current and future students.


Slide 5- Criteria

¨      Fit with SOU’s strategic identity, e.g., does the program build upon characteristics of the region that

       support a distinctive identity, are there regional needs specifically addressed by the program.

¨      Enrollment trends in the program, i.e., number of majors and minors, number of degrees,  minors and certificates awarded annually, SCH from all sources.

¨      Contribution margin of the program.

¨      Class sizes.

¨      Grants and gifts generated by the program.

¨      Impact on other programs.

¨      Quality of the program’s outputs, e.g., record of graduate employment/placement in graduate school, scholarly activity, retention/graduation rates, effectiveness in meeting program’s learning objectives, relevance to regional needs, program recognition for innovation and excellence among peers.


I want to assure our students today that we will make your path clear to graduation with an ample array of academic offerings in your field of interest. Moreover, in our interdisciplinary approach, we will carry forward our commitment to intellectual and civic engagement. We realize that students learn in and out of the classroom, and we will build partnerships in our new College of Arts and Sciences that will strengthen community-based learning opportunities.









Slide 6- Program Elimination



The list of actual programs to be cut is relatively small. German would end with an upcoming retirement. Geography and Geology would end as majors; however, many key components and courses of both programs would be included in an interdisciplinary environmental emphasis developed within the new College of Arts and Sciences.


The Honors program as we have it now would end; however, in the curricular conversations that lie ahead, I would like this campus to take a careful look at how we can best meet the needs of high-achieving students. I ask that both faculty and students consider carefully how we can design an approach that will attract and retain those students who most want to experience academic challenge.


Slide 7- Programs Reductions


The list of programs that would be reduced is extensive. There is a lot of pain in this list; however, even with these reductions, students can continue their paths to graduation. And in the reconfigured College of Arts and Sciences, all the programs in the three current schools will work together to create synergies we do not have in the current configuration.


I want to add also that I am very committed to ensuring, even if Women’s Studies and International Studies are not administered as they are currently, that we do an even better job of infusing gender issues and global issues throughout our curriculum. A focus on issues of equity as well as diversity and globalization should be, must be, significant characteristics of an SOU education. This is a very strong commitment from me.


A number of these reductions would be attained through retirements. However, once again, we cannot make only opportunistic cuts at this time. We need to consider the criteria and the strategic objectives for the university as we face the realities of our budget problem.


The APSOU agreement makes clear that the provisional plan should outline program reductions and eliminations but not the actual means of implementation. Thus, while the programs recommended for reduction and elimination list approximately 25 faculty FTE for reduction, there will be opportunities for some full-time faculty to move into new teaching areas where student demand is greater.


Conversations now need to take place across campus as we move forward. Often in critical situations like this, people feel they have not been asked, not been consulted, not been listened to. Please hear me say now that I ask for your ideas about this provisional plan. I can’t ignore the realities of our financial situation—I can’t make those go away. But I am more than happy to hear how we could approach them more effectively.


Because we are on such a tight time frame for crafting the final plan, we are providing a number of ways for comments to come in and conversations to take place. You may continue to send your comments to my web site, but I remind you that those comments will be public. For people not comfortable doing this, an anonymous online tool is available.  You may also comment through open campus forums and through meetings with groups such as UPC and the Senate.


If you have any ideas for improving this consultative process, please make suggestions right away. And, please, a word to our students: your input is vital in this process. We need to hear from you. I particularly welcome you to attend Pizza with the President on Monday, January 29.


Slide 8- Timetable

o      January 22 – Provisional Plan –  20 Day Comment Period Initiated

o      February 19 – End of 20 Day Comment Period

o      March 5 – Formal Plan Presented


We have a lot of work to do. Between now and March 5, we will work to turn this provisional plan into a final plan. I have discussed our provisional plan with the Chancellor, and he has endorsed our approach. He also acknowledges the painful decisions we are making and is impressed with our progress. Tomorrow I will go to Salem and discuss our situation with the Southern Oregon legislative delegation.


Again, this is a provisional plan. It opens the door for what I hope will be a productive dialogue about what is being proposed in Academic Affairs and what can be accomplished to find savings in academic and non-academic areas. Although we are proposing a somewhat leaner array of academic choices, these choices lead us to a targeted savings amount while preserving core values for SOU.


This provisional plan is not just about cuts. It is a beginning step to our strategic academic planning. In the weeks ahead, I ask that groups and individuals continue to think creatively about our future. The discussions that have been going on represent all that is good about our academic community. The innovative ideas generated so far demonstrate that we can craft a strategic plan over the next year or so that will build on the work being done right now and will establish SOU as a university uniquely suited to serve our region.


I present this provisional plan, with great hope, to our University System, to our campus, and to our community at large. With dedication to the task we have started, we will be better and stronger when we emerge with a final plan to guide our future.


Once again, I ask for your patience as we script a better future for our University. Once again, I remind you that we need a communal passion for excellence at SOU.


This weekend prospective students and their families visited our campus. Many SOU faculty, students, and staff helped to make Preview Weekend a great success. Thanks to all of you for working so hard to highlight the wonderful strengths and academic programs of SOU. The turnout of prospective students and families was a tad smaller than expected due to weather concerns; however, our visitors were very impressed with SOU—and a significantly larger number of visitors is scheduled for the next Preview Weekend.


I can see that our SOU community understands that recruiting and retaining students is everybody’s business. I assured those families and students, and I assure our current students, that SOU will continue to provide academic programs with high standards of excellence and that we will emerge a stronger institution.


I welcome your ideas and your creativity as we move toward the final plan on March 5. Please remember, though, that, in our planning, we have a responsibility to keep our fiscal situation firmly in front of us; we cannot ignore our budgetary realities. No one is going to do this work for us. Our future is in our own hands.


Slide 9- Ways to CommentJanuary 22 – February 19, 2007  or or Leave anonymous comments here


I will now take questions from our audience. Please note, I will brief the media separately after this presentation. On the screen are listed the upcoming open forums to discuss the provisional plan in greater detail.


Thank you all again for your patience and your support.



Slide 10- Forums

Provost Forums – Library Meese Room

            - Tuesday, January 23,   1:00 PM

            - Thursday, January 25, 10:00 AM


Pizza with the President (for students) – Redford Lounge, SU

            - Monday, January 29, 12:00 Noon to 1:30 PM


UPC Forums – to be announced.


All APSOU Members Meeting - Meese Room, Hannon Library

            - Friday, January 26, 4:00 PM




View Provisional Plan


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