The president of Southern Oregon University is calling for a 4% campus-wide reduction in spending.

According to a memo sent to SOU employees Friday, the cut is due to two things – declining enrollment and a decrease in state funding.

The university has 4.8% fewer students compared with last fall. And it’s receiving $250,000 less from the state than last year. The state funding formula for public universities depends on several factors, including student credit hours and degree completions.

SOU officials say they’ve seen a decrease in both.

In her message to employees, SOU president Linda Schott asks the university’s vice presidents to prioritize student needs.

“We want to maintain academic excellence and the strong support system we have for students and try to achieve as much of the reductions as possible through operational efficiency,” Schott said. 

As a part of spending reductions, the university is looking at freezing or eliminating open positions.

The new issue adds to a continuing funding challenge for the university. Earlier this year, SOU received state approval to raise tuition 10% for this fall.

Schott said she’s been monitoring expenses and revenues since she started in 2016. She said rising retirement and healthcare costs have added to the costs associated with stable or declining enrollment. 

“We were already working to reduce expenses this year,” Schott said. 

The Board of Trustees will have a final say on the 4% spending reduction – they will approve a final budget for the year on Friday.

And soon, Schott will start a task force to plan for the university’s financial future.

“Higher education is changing and we need to take a long term look at this,” Schott said. “This memo that went out today is about this year’s operational budget, but we need to be thinking five years out, 10 years out.”