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SOU will likely face furlough days, some four-day weeks

Southern Oregon University will trim faculty and staff pay, probably with unpaid furlough days, officials said this afternoon.

The university is facing a 20 percent reduction in state funding beginning with the new fiscal year July 1.

SOU is negotiating with the unions of both staff and faculty to avoid layoffs by using one of three options: unpaid furlough days, pay cuts or cost-sharing of benefits, meaning workers would pay part of benefit costs, said Craig Morris, vice president for finance and administration.

Unpaid furlough days seems to be emerging as the best option, he said.

The university announced earlier today that it will shut the campus on six Fridays in August and early September, putting all employees on a four-day week for that period. That is expected to save up to $30,000.

The conservation plan was worked out by the SOU Financial Strategies Task Force as a pilot program - and if successful, will be applied at other low-use times, such as the end-of-year holidays, said university President Mary Cullinan, in a letter to staff and faculty.

The affected Fridays are Aug. 7, 14, 21 and 28 and Sept. 4 and 11. The period includes part of the school's summer session, which ends Aug. 15, but none of fall term.

SOU spokesman Jim Beaver said considerable energy savings can be realized by not using air conditioning during the period, one of the hottest of the year.

During the four-day weeks, the campus will operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.

The exact nature of state cuts to SOU will be known in late June, when the Legislature is expected to wrap up its budget-writing and adjourn. Morris said SOU will announce its reductions shortly after that.