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WSU’s budgeting explained during forum
The budget forum held last Friday explained WSU’s current financial woes.
Published 8/29/2011
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During the second university budget forum in two weeks, President Elson S. Floyd said his recommendations to make up the $40 million shortfall will not eliminate any programs or positions, but will focus on consolidation.

More than 100 students, faculty and staff members attended the forum Friday afternoon in the CUB Auditorium.

Though Chief Budget Officer Joan King said layoffs would be inevitable if the extra five or 10 percent cuts the governor has asked WSU to prepare for are realized, no positions will be eliminated due to the current $40 million reduction.

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BUDGET IMPACTS since September 2008

 

  • 52 percent of state funding lost ($231 million)
  • 16 degrees or program options phased out
  • 8 degree programs consolidated or reduced
  • 9 academic units consolidated, reduced or phased out
  • 3 academic program areas eliminated
  • 9 administrative units consolidated
  • More than 1,000 courses removed from the catalog
  • 517 positions eliminated

Source: President Elson S. Floyd

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Floyd devoted the majority of the forum to his recommendations to reconcile the $108 million cut in state funding from the university’s budget. While tuition dollars will account for $68 million with this year’s increase in enrollment, administrators still must slash $40 million from the university’s budget throughout the next two years.

These cuts will affect branch campuses, athletics, capital funding (construction of new buildings) and Academic Affairs. The president’s recommended cut to Academic Affairs totals $3.2 million, or 16 percent of the total cut for this year, which he called “relatively modest,” because academic affairs makes up 63 percent of the university’s budget. However, the cut to this area will likely affect students, staff and faculty the most.

The recommended changes to academic affairs include:

  • Consolidation of the College of Sciences and the College of Liberal Arts
  • Consolidation of the Department of Natural Resource Sciences and the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences into a new School for the Environment
  • Elimination of the doctoral degree in design, and establishment of a new School for Design in Pullman made up of the Departments of Landscape Architecture, Interior Design and Architecture and Construction Management
  • Merging of the Department of Statistics into the Department of Mathematics

  • For more details on the restructuring, visit President Floyd’s blog at http://president.wsu.edu/blog/perspectives

Floyd also presented a timeline for addressing the cuts. He said he will continue to review feedback from students, staff and faculty, and in October the administration will distribute the finalized budgets.

If the additional 5 or 10 percent cuts become a reality, the university would need to cut an extra $13.5 million or $27 million, respectively. While Floyd said the administration has submitted plans to deal with the possible cuts, the plans are very broad and no details have been established.

“We are not out of this fiscal crisis yet,” Floyd said. “We will get out of it, but we are not out of it quite yet. And we will do everything that we can as an institution to maintain the quality and the excellence and the availability of academic offerings.”

Junior geology major Jeff Ladderud said the president’s proposed reductions are not sustainable, and asked about his long-term plans.

Floyd said he hoped to keep the university afloat through money from donors, funds brought in by faculty research and more tuition dollars from larger classes.

The merger of the College of Sciences and the College of Liberal Arts is the first college consolidation in Floyd’s time at WSU, and forum attendees expressed concern about the two colleges successfully serving students.

Floyd said he views consolidation as a better option than elimination, and many universities have combined the colleges with good results.

“We have three approaches, really, relative to the budget,” Floyd said. “We could either eliminate; we’ve tried to minimize the eliminations. We could either consolidate or have new revenues come in, and we’re working mightily on new revenues. But they will not come in in sufficient time to address the $40 million reduction over the next two years.”

Phyllis Shier, public relations and communication coordinator for the College of Liberal Arts, asked Floyd if the college merger could be avoided if college personnel could come up with the money themselves.

Shier said the College of Liberal Arts has already found $250,000 in its budget, which is about half the amount the merger would save. Shier asked if the College of Sciences had come up with the other half.

Floyd said he was open to suggestions, but he would not entertain any proposals that cut programs or positions.

Provost Warwick M. Bayly said the university would have to reinvent itself and find a new normal in the face of the budget cuts.

“At the heart of every great institution are the arts and the sciences,” he said. “I also think that we’re in the 21st century and, as I said, we have to reinvent ourselves and … consider restructuring, if you like, the approach to undergraduate education, so, you know, it addresses maybe more directly some of the current cultural societal requirements. Again, the greatest opportunity is to bring those two colleges together.”

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Budget , News , Blogs

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