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Measure 30 failure takes toll

In response to the cuts forced on Oregon’s universities by the failure of Measure 30 last week, the State Board of Higher Education has begun looking at the steps they must take in the following weeks to meet the latest budget crunch.

Oregon University System (OUS) Chancellor Richard Jarvis asked the Board yesterday during a conference call meeting to permit him to notify “all employees of the Chancellor’s Office that, subject to program reduction, employment extension or contract renewal beyond the current contract date of June 30, 2004, cannot be guaranteed,” according to a memo from Jarvis.

Board President Neil Goldschmidt stated that the letter was pretty “self-explanatory,” although some concerns were expressed.

David Frohnmeyer, president of University of Oregon, worried that the notice would be “seen as all-inclusive,” rather than specific only to the Chancellor’s Office.

Goldschmidt confirmed that Jarvis’ notification “has no impact on any teaching faculty,” or on the students. Those groups may face trouble at some point due to the cuts incurred by the failure of Measure 30, but Gov. Ted Kulongoski has urged the Board to try and find administrative cuts before resorting to faculty cuts or tuition increases, which would limit access for students.

Jarvis asserted his dedication to this, saying the Board should “let people know we’re contributing to the response to Measure 30” considering all sides, including the student perspective.

Goldschmidt added, the Board wants to “take the burden off students and faculty.”

Board member Donald Blair added that Jarvis’ notification is “only a preliminary heads-up” and that they “don’t want this to be interpreted as a lay-off notice.”

The Board will more seriously address cuts at individual campuses at their February and March meetings. Goldschmidt noted that, at this point, the draft proposals from the various campuses are “all very different.”

Geri Richmond, a board member, added, “We are nowhere near making the final decision at this point.”

Goldschmidt expects the more serious talks about cuts will occur at the March meeting, adding that most final proposals from the campuses will be made in mid-April. The cuts must be implemented by May 1.

May is not that far off, but it does allow the board the leisure of taking some time deciding where to make all the necessary cuts, adding that they don’t have “guns to our heads” to make any decision at the Feb. 20 meeting.

Goldschmidt has encouraged the individual universities, including Portland State, to prepare for the cuts and to weigh in on the discussions with the Board.

Jarvis added that the responses from the campuses “will be fairly general for now.”

The board approved Jarvis’ request to send the “heads-up” notice to Chancellor’s Office employees regarding the potential up-coming cuts.

The Board’s regularly scheduled meeting on Feb. 20 will be held at University of Oregon.