Faculty start online petition to save Substance Abuse Prevention Program

Faculty of the University of Oregon’s substance abuse counseling program are petitioning to save their program after UO announced its termination last Wednesday. The online petition currently has 377 of its 500-signature goal.

The Wednesday announcement from the college of education calls for cutting the Substance Abuse Prevention Program in fall 2017. Eighteen non-tenure track instructor positions will also be cut with the program.

But many faculty members in the SAPP program are upset that the school hasn’t put effort into making the changes needed to save the program.

Ruth Bichsel, SAPP director (Image from SAPP website)

Program director Ruth Bischel said that SAPP leadership has addressed the issues by submitting over 35 proposals to fix the program but has been “blocked by the department.” SAPP meets all state standards for accreditation and is the only academic Certified Prevention Specialist program in the state, she wrote in an email to the Emerald.

“If you do not have the support of your department, essential changes cannot be made,” Bischel wrote.

The dean of the College of Education, Randy Kamphaus, could not be reached by the Emerald by phone or email. Kamphaus wrote the letter announcing SAPP’s termination.

Randy Kamphaus, dean of the College of Education, announced  SAPP’s shut down, set for next school year. (Image from COE website)

Bischel wants an external review of the program and said that she feels the COE review was biased. Despite SAPP faculty adapting the coursework to meet other academic requirements, the program is still being cut.

Kamphaus’ letter stated that three reasons for cutting the program include course difficulty, quality of teaching and SAPP courses not being eligible for degree programs.

The petition, created on April 24 at, emphasizes the need for research-based addiction treatment.

A statement on the petition says, “During a time in which many vulnerable populations are under threat and addictions education and programming are increasing all over the country, this is not the time to eliminate or divert this essential community-conscious program.”

UO sociology major Kristine Swinson takes classes in the program and earned 22 SAPP credits. She says it is an essential part of the community because she has seen the toll of addiction both personally and as a child protection services employee.

“The thought of this program being eliminated worries me as an individual but also as a long-term resident of Eugene,” Swinson wrote in an email. “Every SAPP class that I have taken has been interesting, very informative and has contained critical educational material for my career choice.”

The petition is available here.

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Sararosa Davies

Sararosa Davies

Sararosa Davies is the senior A&C editor at the Emerald. A former editor at the youth-run music blog Garage Music News, her written work has been featured in City Pages in Minneapolis, Eugene Weekly and Sirius XM's music blog. She's one of many Minnesotan transplants in Oregon.

Send her tips and questions at [email protected] or check out her work at