CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University on Wednesday announced a proposal to focus its resources around four core areas and approved a series of recommendations to mitigate anticipated budget reductions for 2009-11 through streamlining and restructuring administration, eliminating low enrollment courses, and consolidating departments and degree programs.
In a message to campus, OSU President Ed Ray said the university is investing in targeted areas, including student access to foundational courses. “This process is not just about cuts,” Ray wrote. “It is about building and refocusing. We also recognize that to meet our aspirations, we need to substantially increase revenues from non-state sources.”
Although final budget figures will not be available from the Oregon University System until this fall, OSU officials have been preparing for a budget gap of $15 million to $20 million from Education and General funds for the 2009-11 biennium. In addition, OSU’s Statewide Public Service Programs – the Agricultural Experiment Station, Extension Service and Forest Research Laboratory – face a reduction of 15 percent, or $18 million following the legislative session.
The university announced Wednesday its initial plan to deal with those reductions, as Ray approved a series of recommendations from a campus budget advisory council. Those recommendations could lead to the elimination of as many as 150 to 200 FTE positions in the E&G budget and another 75 to 100 positions from the statewide programs.
The approved recommendations will save OSU an estimated $14.2 million out of its $15 million to $20 million E&G gap. Further reductions will have to come from additional program consolidation or elimination.
“We have been working for several months on a thoughtful, deliberate plan to address the anticipated budget gap, and we hope to use retirements, vacancies and attrition whenever possible to lessen the impact on faculty and staff,” said Sabah Randhawa, OSU’s provost and executive vice president. “Some layoffs will be inevitable, but we will work hard to minimize the hardships on faculty and staff.”
The university will eliminate an estimated 500 course sections and more than 30 academic programs will be restructured, eliminated or consolidated. OSU has set minimum numbers of graduates for majors and minors in a program, and is trying to eliminate lower-division courses with fewer than 25 students, upper-division courses with fewer than 15 students and graduate courses with fewer than six students.
“There may be some exceptions,” Randhawa said, “but in this era of fiscal accountability, we have to maximize the resources that we have.”
The university also announced new administrative guidelines designed to make OSU flatter and more focused, with fewer levels of management. Small departments will be consolidated, Randhawa said, and colleges will have no more than five departments.
Ray also circulated a proposal, not yet approved, which would align the university’s colleges into divisions based on themes outlined in the university’s strategic plan:
- Healthy Planet – College of Agricultural Sciences, College of Forestry and College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences;
- Healthy People – College of Health and Human Sciences, College of Pharmacy, College of Veterinary Medicine;
- Healthy Economy – College of Engineering, College of Business;
- Basic Inquiry – College of Liberal Arts, College of Science.
“Although there are some savings with this proposal,” Ray wrote of the division structure, “the primary purpose would be to align our academic structure with the university’s strategic plan, increase collaborations and interdisciplinary work, and create areas of distinction for growth.”
The proposal also would relocate the College of Education to the OSU-Cascades Campus in Bend, while maintaining a core of education faculty on the main campus to facilitate the double degree program.
More details on the OSU plan are available at: http://oregonstate.edu/leadership/budget/.