President’s Column: 2016-17: A Critical Crossroads

Posted by  Margaret Butler   in       Sep 27, 2016     890 Views     Leave your thoughts  


by José A. Padín, President, AAUP-OR

 

Oregon’s higher education is at a critical crossroads — several, in fact.

 

As faculty and academic professionals we will be “stepping up our game” to make sure our students, our universities, and the integrity of higher learning and academic work survive some very formidable challenges.

 

The state of Oregon is facing a looming budget crisis that threatens to take away all of the recent recovery from recession-era setbacks, and then some. Without new revenue, we might face $50 million in cutbacks at Oregon’s public universities, as well as similar cuts across the state. The revenue measure on the ballot, measure 97, will provide funds for K-12 education, health care and senior services. Measure 97 means we won’t have to face that budget crisis and frees up additional state dollars. The ballot confronts Oregonians with a stark choice this fall, and we must make our voices heard.

 

Within any budget constraint, universities must show wisdom in the allocation of their resources. AAUP-Oregon is launching a “values-based budgeting” initiative this year, and we will take our message for ethical budget priorities to the office of the Governor, the legislature, and the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC).

 

A wave of discontent with enduring and painful racial inequalities has swept our universities over the last year. AAUP-Oregon, and all of our members at public and private universities, are starting campus and statewide racial equity workgroups aiming to analyze glaring racial inequities at our universities and to propose bold suggestions to remedy them that go beyond window dressing. Racial equity must be one of the priorities in our “values-based” budget resource allocations.

 

Our aims for this year are winning an infusion of new investments in higher education, dodging a catastrophic budget crisis, establishing the principle of ethical budget priorities, and decisive movement towards racial equity.

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