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SOU seeks ways to trim $1.1 million

ASHLAND — Southern Oregon University President Mary Cullinan said the school will have to trim $1.1 million from its current budget to build against future cuts in the face of the deepening recession.

Cullinan painted an ominous picture of the school's financial future Thursday night during her state of the university address at the Stevenson Student Union.

"There's no doubt the coming Legislative session will bring bad news," she told the approximately 100 people who gathered in the union's Rogue River Room.

Cullinan said she has asked each department vice president to find ways to cut operating costs in their sector to make up the $1.1 million.

The latest cut continues the university's retrenchment plan developed during the spring of 2007 that has already sliced $4 million out of the budget. The previous cuts eliminated some ares of study such as the German language major.

Cullinan said the $1.1 million cutback will be directed toward administration duties, which she hopes will have minimal impact on students.

SOU spokesman Jim Beaver does not know if the restructuring will result in layoffs, but he said they have been a concern on campus since the economic meltdown last year.

"I think (layoffs) are a pretty common topic in every industry these days," Beaver said. "Who knows what the future holds?"

Cullinan's speech came a day after the university announced it will kick in $90,000 to replace lost state grants for approximately 1,200 students.

Cullinan will host an open forum today in the SOU Hannon Library to discuss the budget cuts and the impact the recession might have on the university in the coming years. The meeting will start at 11 a.m. in the library's Meece Room on the third floor.

Cullinan did highlight a few bright points early in her speech. She pointed toward SOU exceeding enrollment projections in 2008 and the success of the Higher Education Center in Medford as positive steps toward the future.

"We're on a strong path even though there is a lot of fiscal turbulence surrounding us," Cullinan said.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471; or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.