Cullinan Takes Top Post At Eastern Washington University

Jun 16, 2014

SOU president Mary Cullinan is leaving to head Eastern Washington University
Credit SOU

Second time's the charm.

Just a month after being a finalist for a job at Youngstown University in Ohio, Southern Oregon University President Mary Cullinan has announced she's leaving SOU at the end of June to assume the presidency of Eastern Washington University near Spokane.

Cullinan made the announcement Monday afternoon via email to the SOU campus. In an interview with JPR in her office on the Ashland campus, Cullinan said that, after 8 years at the helm at SOU, she was ready for a new professional challenge.

"Eastern Washington is maybe three times the size of SOU. It offers interesting opportunities that we don't have here, in a larger metropolitan area," she said. "So it's a significant step for me and I'm very excited."

Over the past year, Cullinan has overseen deep budget cuts, downsizing or eliminating dozens of programs as well as faculty layoffs. She's also helped shepherd SOU through the restructuring of the Oregon University System, in which SOU and the other six state universities will have their own governing boards.

These moves generated their share of controversy, and in March, Cullinan (and SOU provost James Klein) lost a vote of confidence by the Faculty Senate.

With those storms now behind her, Cullinan says she feels she's helped set SOU in a good direction for the future.

"I've done a whole lot to get the new board ready to go. I'm hopeful we'll have a wonderful new board in July of 2015."

Cullinan will step down as SOU president on June 30.  The State Board of Higher Education and the Oregon University System Chancellor's Office will be responsible for finding a new president for SOU.