LA GRANDE Ore.
The interim president of Eastern Oregon University said this week that the university must reduce its expenses by $2.4 million this school year and staff cuts are unavoidable.
Declining enrollment is the biggest reason for the fiscal problems. Enrollment was down 5.7 percent in 2006-07 and is projected to be down at least another 5.8 percent in 2007-08.
Dixie Lund, who came out of retirement in July to take the job after Khosrow Fatemi resigned, said 70 percent to 85 percent of the university’s budget is committed to salaries and benefits, so it will be impossible to reduce expenses without touching jobs.
“It is inconceivable that we can respond to our financial condition without eliminating positions,” Lund said at her State of the University Address this week.
Even after cutting $2.4 million in expenses, Eastern Oregon will have to draw $200,000 from its reserve fund to break even for 2007-08, Lund said.
That would reduce the fund to $400,000, which is less than 2 percent of the university’s annual revenue. Oregon’s State Board of Higher Education expects all universities to have a reserve fund between 5 percent to 15 percent of their annual revenue.
Lund said her plan for trimming expenses and drawing from the reserve fund will succeed in keeping EOU in the black in 2007-08 if the university’s enrollment drop is held to 5.8 percent.
Unfortunately, EOU’s enrollment a week before the start of fall of term is down 7.8 percent. Lund said there is still time to add the needed 326 students.
“We must all help in recruiting and retaining students,” she told the 350 faculty, staff and community members in the audience. “You never know when that person who is waiting on you in a restaurant or at a bank or in a store or pumping gas at the station or sitting next to you at a play or a game would be attracted to EOU if you engaged them in a bit of conversation.”
The interim president encouraged everyone to carry EOU admissions brochures when they travel and be ready to distribute them.
Lund also urged staff and faculty to be prepared to help when they see students struggling with homesickness, study difficulties or personal problems.
“Remember if you are not helping you are making things worse,” Lund said.
Information from: The (La Grande) Observer, http://www.lagrandeobserver.com/
– Associated Press
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