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SOU ‘Challenged’ By Budget Forecast, Says President

Portrait of SOU President
Southern Oregon University President Linda Schott

Southern Oregon University is facing a difficult budget forecast. During a campus community meeting on Thursday, SOU President Linda Schott delivered what was part pep talk and part warning about the future of higher education in Southern Oregon.

“The state of our university is challenged,” Schott said, addressing faculty and staff.

A variety of forces in Oregon and nationally are behind the challenging budget forecast facing SOU, Schott said. Among the biggest is a decline of about 4% in fulltime students this year, coupled with less funding than expected from the state.  

Schott says it’s a theme affecting other public universities in Oregon too.

“At the state level you see a similar pattern. State appropriations go down. Tuition and fees go up,” she said.

Oregon’s public universities were seeking $120 million from the state legislature this year, which according to SOU board of trustee meeting minutes would allow institutions to “maintain the current service level.” The schools were instead allocated $100 million.

To address simultaneous declines in state revenue and student tuition, the SOU board of trustees approved a plan to cut $2.4 million across the university over fiscal year 2020.

Administrators will control $880,000 in costs by keeping currently empty campus positions vacant.

Schott’s plans to increase revenue include collaborations with local community colleges, adding adult learner programs, retaining current students and revised fundraising priorities.

Erik Neumann is JPR's news director. He earned a master's degree from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and joined JPR as a reporter in 2019 after working at NPR member station KUER in Salt Lake City.