Eastern lays out road map for cuts

By Dick Mason, The Observer May 17, 2013 10:50 am

President Bob Davies speaks about proposed budget cuts and adjustments that would stabilize Eastern Oregon University’s budget during a presentation Thursday before faculty, staff and students. (Chris Baxter/The Observer)
President Bob Davies speaks about proposed budget cuts and adjustments that would stabilize Eastern Oregon University’s budget during a presentation Thursday before faculty, staff and students. (Chris Baxter/The Observer)

Eastern Oregon University’s budget cutting axe will not collect any cobwebs this spring.

Eastern President Bob Davies announced Thursday that a continuing decline in state funding will force EOU to make between $2 million and $2.3 million in budget cuts and adjustments. The proposals, which call for the elimination of 14.29 positions, would be phased in over the next year.

Davies made this announcement while presenting a draft plan for proposed reductions and adjustments with Stephen Adkison, EOU provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, at a university forum at Huber Auditorium.

Changes are necessary because Eastern is on course to spend $1.2 million more than it will receive in revenue in 2012-13. EOU is projected to lose a similar amount in 2013-14 unless steps are taken to reverse the budget course. 

“This is not a situation we can kick down the road and hope that it gets better. We have to make tough decisions,” Davies said.

The proposed cuts are part of a draft of a University Sustainability Plan EOU has prepared. Input on the plan, which can be given through the EOU website, will be accepted through June 7. A final version of the University Sustainability Plan will be released early the following week. 

The proposed elimination of 14.29 positions would save Eastern close to $1 million a year in salary and benefits. About half of the positions could be cut by not filling vacancies created by retirements and resignations, Davies said. 

The total would include 7.29 regular faculty positions, plus two online adjunct positions. Despite the faculty cuts, no majors would be cut or reduced but two to three minors would be eliminated or reduced and some academic concentrations might be reduced.

On the non-instructional side, three classified staff and two academic support positions would be cut. 

 The classified staff cuts would involve one full- and two part-time positions. Two of the cuts would include secretarial positions, and one would be a student success and engagement position. 

The two academic support job cuts would involve regional student academic advising and support positions.

The plan also calls for 11 furlough days to be taken in 2013-14 by administrators and members of their staffs who are not union members. This would save Eastern between $250,000 and $300,000. 

Another proposed cost-saving step would involve charging a small fee to students who pay their tuition with credit cards. The fees would cover the added expense Eastern incurs when it accepts tuition payments via credit card. 

The fees are relatively small but they add up. Eastern is presently paying between $80,000 and $85,000 a year in credit card fees. 

Eastern is also considering no longer using outside consultants when conducting personnel searches for administrators. 

On the revenue generating side, Eastern is set to raise tuition 5 percent in 2013-14, which is close to what the average will be for schools in the Oregon University System. Despite the 5-percent increase, Eastern would continue to have the lowest tuition of any institution in the OUS. 

“We will still be the best bargain in the state,” Davies said. 

He noted that over the past five years, tuition at Oregon’s state universities has jumped between 30.3 and 42.9 percent at each school but only 19.7 percent at Eastern. Eastern’s state funding has fallen 41.9 percent during this time, which means EOU is receiving a net of $1,200 less per full-time student than it did five years ago, Davies said. 

Davies said Eastern’s proposed sustainability plan would allow it to build up its reserve fund to the point that it could absorb future ups and downs in its financial situation without having to take drastic steps.

“I believe that with long-term planning we can get off the roller coaster we have been on,” Davies said. 

Slowing enrollment growth is a factor contributing to Eastern’s budget problem. Eastern has grown 30 percent during the past eight years but only 4 percent the last two years. This combined with a continuing drop in state funding is spelling trouble for Eastern. 

The draft plan includes an extensive amount of data used by EOU administrators when preparing the draft. Adkison is encouraging people to study the numbers, then submit comments if they have concerns.

“We need more eyes looking at the data to make sure I’m not missing any patterns,” Adkison said. 


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