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News Releases
Western Oregon University board approves revised FY21 budget - 11/18/20

MONMOUTH, Ore. – The Western Oregon University Board of Trustees on Wednesday approved the adjusted fiscal year 2021 budget, which required an update based on actual enrollment numbers for fall 2020.

 

The previous FY21 budget, initially adopted at the board’s June meeting, had been based on a projected enrollment decrease of 2.5%. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic and many other factors, actual enrollment was down about 7.9%. The new budget reflects the resultant  decrease in revenue—as well in financial shortfalls caused by a shift to mostly remote instruction—and details how cuts in spending, salaries and other expenses will cover the deficit.

 

“These are extremely challenging times in higher education, and Western is not alone in having to make difficult decisions for the current and future success of the university,” said President Rex Fuller. “The board charged us with aligning our budget and personnel expenses to reflect current enrollment realities, and together, that is what we accomplished. Frankly, it was one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do as president.”

 

The board also discussed the outlook for fall 2021 enrollment, which nationwide is trending well behind previous years. Admissions applications have been slower to roll in, and the Admissions department shared its innovations to help simplify the process for prospective students, including dropping the application fee and allowing students to self-report their GPAs during this time.

 

“Western is committed to making a college degree accessible for all students, especially in the age of COVID when even simple tasks, such as ordering an official high school transcript, can be difficult,” explained VP for Student Affairs Gary Dukes. “We appreciate the board’s support for these changes to help us reach as many high school seniors and transfer students as possible.”

 

Also at the meeting, the board:

  • Heard an enrollment update from Fuller regarding WOU:Salem. Enrollment has doubled year over year since 2019, when WOU:Salem first started offering courses. There were 148 students in fall 2019 and 296 students in fall 2020.
  • Learned that WOU Sponsored Projects had been granted $12,787,316 in external funding thanks to 55 different proposals in 2020.
  • Reviewed the latest iteration of the 2020 Fall Safe Operation and Instructional Plan, the university blueprint for safe operation following state requirements around COVID-19. The board had approved the plan in August and received an update Wednesday on continued adherence to the plan.
  • Discussed the current draft of the Board Statement on Diversity, Inclusion, Equity and Accessibility.
  • Trustees met in executive session to discuss the presidential search.

 

About Western Oregon University

Western Oregon University, founded in 1856 and located in Monmouth, is the state’s oldest public university. Serving approximately 4,500 students, WOU is a mid-sized, NCAA Division II institution with nearly 75 percent of the student population being from Oregon. A significant portion of attendees are members of under-represented groups, veterans or non-traditional students. WOU is Oregon’s campus of choice for those seeking a transformative education in a supportive, student-centered learning community where classes are taught by faculty. Together we succeed.

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Western Oregon University receives $1 million grant to support rehabilitation and mental health counseling (Photo) - 11/05/20

MONMOUTH, Ore. – Western Oregon University’s (WOU) Research and Resource Center with Deaf* communities (RRCD) has received a $1 million grant from the federal Rehabilitation Service Administration (RSA). This grant supports WOU’s Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling (RMHC) program, which trains people to facilitate employment, independent living, community integration and more for individuals who are Deaf or have disabilities.

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The grant began this month and runs through Sept. 30, 2025. RRCD will receive $200,000 annually to support RMHC students with their tuition, training and professional development and recruitment efforts to bring in more students from underserved populations. This grant is in addition to a $1 million grant received last year to support these initiatives, and WOU is one of the few institutions to receive both five-year grants.

 

Joyce Contreras is an RMHC student who received funding from last year’s RSA grant. Through the grant’s support, Contreras learned she has an interest in vocational rehabilitation and plans to pursue a career in the field. “If it wasn’t for the RSA grant, I do not know how I would have made it through financially, but the support from my cohort and the RMHC staff has helped me thrive in the program,” she said. “Beginning in winter term, I will be doing my internship with the Albany and Corvallis vocational rehabilitation offices, which I look forward to because there is so much I am interested in learning from vocational rehabilitation work in helping individuals with disabilities find employment.”

 

Associate Professor Denise Thew Hackett, RMHC program coordinator, and Chad A. Ludwig, RRCD director, both deaf, are two of the leaders in WOU’s programs, which aim to narrow the gap of vocational rehabilitation and mental health counselors nationwide. The RMHC’s rehabilitation counselor with deaf track is one of only three in the country, and the RMHC program overall is one of only four in the Pacific Northwest. The deaf track specialty has an online option that is delivered in American Sign Language to address a significant national shortage of counselors with this specialty. There is a hybrid model for the general track with Saturday face-to-face meetings at WOU:Salem (resuming when pandemic conditions allow) and online in between to meet the needs of working professionals and rural students.

 

RSA was created to address the current national shortage of qualified rehabilitation counselors with a master’s degree. RSA scholars are required to do two years of service payback for each year of financial support in state vocational rehabilitation and qualified agencies that contract with them. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (2019) outlined a positive projected job outlook for 2020-23, and in Oregon, at least 40 VRC positions will need to be filled over the next three years due to retirement alone. Similar data is shown nationally, and even more so with specialty training to serve individuals who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing or DeafBlind.

 

WOU’s RMHC program has had a retention rate of nearly 100% for the past several years and 100% of the graduates have been hired within six months of completing their degree. This grant will enable RMHC to support more students with their education expenses, professional expenses such as attending professional conferences/training, and prepare them for employment in vocational rehabilitation.


RRCD is in WOU’s College of Education and has been supporting students in fields like interpreter training, deaf and hard of hearing education, and rehabilitation counseling for more than 50 years. For more information about the RMHC, please visit www.wou.edu/rrcd/rmhc.

 

About Western Oregon University

Western Oregon University, founded in 1856 and located in Monmouth, is the state’s oldest public university. Serving approximately 4,800 students, WOU is a mid-sized, NCAA Division II institution with nearly 75 percent of the student population being from Oregon. A significant portion of attendees are members of under-represented groups, veterans or non-traditional students. WOU is Oregon’s campus of choice for those seeking a transformative education in a supportive, student-centered learning community where classes are taught by faculty. Together we succeed.

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