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Final SOU cuts 'less painful'

Some programs were saved and others were cut as Southern Oregon University announced its final plan to address a $4 million budget shortfall Monday.

The university will eliminate its major in German, but geology and geography, will be consolidated into one degree program that includes environmental studies. In January, Cullinan proposed eliminating both majors entirely.

Women's studies and international studies programs will continue, but with reductions. The schools of Arts and Letters, Social Sciences and Sciences will be rolled into one College of Arts and Sciences under one dean instead of three, reducing the number of departments from 23 to 14.

In all, 22 academic programs will undergo budget reductions, and a total of 24 faculty positions will be eliminated by 2010.

"This final budget plan presents a less painful approach than what we unveiled in January," SOU President Mary Cullinan said Monday.

School officials say the shortfall was caused by rising energy and health-care costs combined with shrinking enrollment and state support.

The German major will end with the retirement of Gundrun Gill. Adjunct faculty will continue to teach basic German courses, and it is still uncertain whether the courses will be enough to equal a minor.

"If adjuncts are going to teach it, the program is dead," Gill told the Mail Tribune. "We would rather eliminate it than do something like this."

Students said the cuts are a blow to the institution's image. But, they added, the image problem is not unique to their university.

"It comes down to Oregon as a state not funding higher education," said Sharon Bywater, a senior majoring in German and geology.

The preliminary plan for trimming the budget was announced at the end of January. Since then, officials received more than 300 e-mails and letters in responses to the proposed cuts.