MONMOUTH, Ore. (AP) — Several positions and programs at Western Oregon University will be reduced and eliminated next year in an attempt to curb a growing concern for the institution’s financial stability.
The Statesman Journal reports the university's board of trustees on Nov. 18 approved an adjusted 2021 budget, which required an update on fall 2020 enrollment numbers.
The previous budget, initially adopted at the board’s June meeting, was based on a projected enrollment decrease of 2.5%, officials said.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and “many other factors,” officials reported enrollment was actually down about 7.9%.
Officials said the new budget reflects the resulting decrease in revenue, as well as financial shortfalls caused by a shift to mostly remote instruction. Cuts in spending, salaries and other expenses will be used to cover the deficit.
This includes the university reducing or eliminating nearly three dozen full-time equivalent positions and programs, including the elimination of a major or minor in anthropology, a major in philosophy and the entire master’s in music and master’s in information technology programs.
“These are extremely challenging times in higher education, and Western is not alone in having to make difficult decisions for the current and future success of the university,” said outgoing President Rex Fuller, who announced in October his plans for retirement next September.
Many university employees are not sympathetic to the cuts.
On Oct. 28, Western faculty and staff unions initiated a vote of “no confidence” in Fuller in response to concerns raised by employees across the campus.
The unions cited failures of leadership, persistent management problems and damage to the campus climate as primary reasons for conducting the no-confidence vote. More than 85% of the 240 respondents stated they had no confidence in Fuller’s leadership.
Western, located in Monmouth, is the state’s oldest public university and serves nearly 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The university announced program expansion into a Salem location last year.