Eastern Oregon bracing for cutbacks

By Dick Mason, The Observer May 02, 2014 10:15 am

Under the Eastern Oregon University financial stability plan draft, numerous programs are recommended for reduction, including the Theatre Arts program. It is recommended for reduction due to low-enrolled upper-division courses and ongoing low graduation rates. Teaching a stage combat class outside of Loso Hall Thursday afternoon is Associate Professor of Theatre Arts Kenn Wheeler, second from left. Demonstrating to students how to roll properly is Teaching Assistant Jacob Mitchell. (PHIL BULLOCK/The Observer)
Under the Eastern Oregon University financial stability plan draft, numerous programs are recommended for reduction, including the Theatre Arts program. It is recommended for reduction due to low-enrolled upper-division courses and ongoing low graduation rates. Teaching a stage combat class outside of Loso Hall Thursday afternoon is Associate Professor of Theatre Arts Kenn Wheeler, second from left. Demonstrating to students how to roll properly is Teaching Assistant Jacob Mitchell. (PHIL BULLOCK/The Observer)
 

Decline in state funding, enrollment forcing school to make about $4 million in cuts

Eastern Oregon University is again in a budget cutting mode.

Outgoing EOU President Bob Davies announced Wednesday that a continuing decline in state funding and enrollment will force Eastern to make about $4 million in budget cuts, trim programs and make other reductions.  

Davies released a draft plan for the proposed reductions on Wednesday. The proposed changes, which would include the elimination of about 25 full-time faculty positions and seven administration staff positions, would be phased in over two years.

Davies said that developing the draft plan has been painful but necessary.

“Our ultimate goal is to be fiscally sound,” said Davies, who will leave EOU in mid-June to become president of Murray State University in Kentucky.

This is the third time Davies has had to make budget cuts during his five-year tenure at EOU. Eastern had to trim its budget by about $2 million almost a year ago and by $3.8 million in 2011. 

Oregon University System Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Jay Kenton, who will become Eastern’s interim president on June 16, said the steps the plan calls for will benefit EOU enormously in the long run.

“It puts in the foundation for success for years to come,” Kenton said. 

The proposed reductions listed in the plan are necessary because of budget shortfalls caused by falling enrollment. Eastern is spending more money than it is taking in as a result. It will spend $1.06 million more than it will receive in 2013-14. Should the fiscal plan be adopted, Eastern is projected to spend $743,000 more than it will receive in 2014-15 but beginning in 2015-16 it would be in the black, according to the plan prepared by Davies, Provost Stephen Adkison, Interim Provost Sarah Witte and Kenton. 

The draft plan calls for between 14 and 16 full-time faculty positions for those on tenure track or on fixed-term contracts to be cut. It also calls for 10 full-time faculty positions who are online or adjunct professors to be cut. 

The plan also calls for Eastern’s chemistry major to be eliminated. Students would no longer be able to earn a chemistry degree but they could minor in it. Students also would still be able to earn a biochemistry degree.  

(For full story, see Friday's edition of The Observer.)