Colleges across Oregon facing budget cuts

Some cite a lack in state funding and others say it's due to a lack of students. Either way, it boils down to one thing -- money.

Posted: Apr 4, 2019 6:56 PM
Updated: Apr 4, 2019 7:09 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Colleges across Oregon are facing tight budgets this year, forcing them to make cuts in everything from staff to classes. Some cite a lack in state funding and others say it's due to a lack of students. Either way, it boils down to one thing -- money.

Looking around the University of Oregon, you can see and hear a lot of construction. It's a sign of growth. In reality, the university is facing a challenging budget this year and has to cut about $11 million.

In a letter to the campus, University of Oregon President Michael Schill wrote: "The vast majority of construction projects and programmatic investments we are making across campus are the result of targeted donor gifts, specific state capital allocations, or auxiliary funding sources. The reality is that these projects and investments—which generally involve little to no general fund dollars—are the very thing that will keep the UO on a path toward excellence even as we wrestle with the volatility of state funding and international enrollment."

He wrote that the university plans on applying those cuts to administration and to the schools and colleges within the university. A university spokesperson released the following statement on Thursday:

"Our goal is to limit job loss as much as we can. Over the next few months, University of Oregon deans and leadership will be examining their current staffing and department priorities to develop a staffing plan that fits with the university’s financial resources.

Deans and vice presidents will have the ability to exercise discretion on how these reductions are achieved, but President Schill has identified some key priorities that must be protected: student success, campus safety, fundraising and enrollment. In some cases, we may need to stop doing things that are not aligned with those priorities or the UO’s teaching, research and service mission.

The provost’s office will do everything possible to ensure that the changes in our schools and colleges have as little negative impact as possible on academic activities and programs, including career faculty and staff."

Oregon State University is in similar shape. According to a spokesperson, they have to trim their spending by $7.5 million. Each university highlighted areas that will not be on the chopping block.

Steven Clark, OSU's Vice President of University Relations & Marketing, said public safety, the research office and recruitment will not be impacted. 

U of O President Schill said student success, campus safety, fundraising and enrollment will be protected.

Community colleges are feeling the squeeze too. Officials with Linn-Benton Community College said they've been forced to make some hard, money-saving decisions like discontinuing the school's Horticulture Program, a cut that's not sitting well with all students.

"That's what our community cares about is agriculture. I don't know that everyone knows that horticulture is agriculture," said Karen Canan, a student and Horticulture Club member at LBCC. "Horticulture and crop production programs are the soil cultivation and crop growing program as LBCC."

A spokesperson with with LBCC said that the school has a big agriculture program, and that's not going to change. 

Many colleges say some of the savings will also come by not filling vacant positions.

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