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The downfall of the WSU budget
Since the 2008 economic crash, institutions of higher education have taken tremendous hits.
Published 8/19/2011
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Evergreen

Washington State University students are paying 16 percent higher tuition than they were last year, the curtain has fallen for the Department of Theatre and Dance and more students are qualifying for financial aid but not receiving it than ever before.

The budget crisis has left higher education less accessible than ever, and students are feeling the pressure of paying for college.

“My parents aren’t in a position to help me out (very much),” sophomore business major Caitlyn Dimock said.

She said she’s lucky to get scholarships and grants and worked during the summer to save money.

Justin Wheeler is a junior management information systems major who lost most of his college savings when the stock market crashed in 2008.

“We were able to pay for school,” he said. “But my parents had to take money out of my brothers' college fund to pay for me.”

Keenya Hale is a transfer student, double majoring in architecture and interior design and searching for a job. She said her parents are disabled, and that while she can get more scholarships because of that, her parents have not been able to help much with paying for school.

“They weren’t able to save up money,” she said. “They send little things here and there, though.”

Here is an overview of changes made to the university administration and budget since 2008.

2008

April—President Elson S. Floyd institutes a slowdown in hiring by the university, establishing a new process of consultation before filling vacant positions or awarding promotions. A moratorium was imposed on new academic programs, degrees and courses.

December—WSU proposed to cut 954 courses from its catalog, representing 18 percent of the 5,314 courses in the catalog.

Floyd and Provost Warwick M. Bayly created the University Budget Committee to discuss further responses to the budget.

2009

February— The WSU Board of Regents approved a Voluntary Early Retirement Incentive Program for employees in the WSU Retirement Plan and 47 employees took advantage of the program.

June—WSU was required to return $10.5 million of the 2007-2009 biennial appropriation to the governor’s office, representing one of the first major cuts to university funding. Instruction, libraries, branch campuses and the Murrow College were protected from the reduction. Administrative areas were assessed 58 percent, and other academic areas were assessed 42 percent.

July—WSU established its final plan to prepare for the 2009-2011 biennial budget. The budget then included a 10.38-percent decrease for WSU and a 14-percent increase in tuition. Among the major changes were the phasing out of the Department of Theater and Dance, the elimination of the German major, the reduction of general custodial and maintenance services and the phasing out of the Department of Community and Rural Sociology.

The president, provost, deans, chancellors and vice presidents agreed to contribute 5 percent of their base salary to WSU excellence funds.

2010

January—The WSU Board of Regents approved a Voluntary Retirement Incentive Plan for eligible WSU employees who are members of a Washington administered retirement system.

March—Another Voluntary Retirement Incentive Plan was passed by the Regents, similar to the 2009 plan. A total of 67 retired between the two plans.

April­—WSU began consolidating the Facilities Operation and Capital Planning and Development offices to save money and reduce the number of administrative staff.

May—A supplemental budget was passed, reducing WSU’s allocation by $13.5 million for the 2011 fiscal year, making the total reduction about $68 million.

August—The incoming freshman class was restricted in recognition of a shortage of available resources. Floyd said the uncertainty of last year led to a small class while early planning led to this year’s much larger class.

“(Last year,) the Legislature decided that we wanted to err on the side of being conservative,” he said. “This year, we knew that (the budget) was going to be reduced. There was also some thoughtful discussion around tuition, so this year we made the decision early on that we would have an early class.”

The number of vice presidents was reduced from nine to six.

December—About 32 currently filled positions were eliminated. 126 vacant positions were eliminated.

Legislators approved an additional $7.47 million temporary budget cut for the 2011 fiscal year.

2011

March— A revenue forecast issued by the Office of Financial Management indicated tax revenue runs below projections. The state’s chief economist estimated that state tax collections will continue to decrease.

May—The Higher Education Opportunity Act passed, granting universities tuition setting authority. Floyd announced shortly after that tuition would increase 16 percent, in line with the Senate’s original proposal for tuition hikes.

The state budget cut 26 percent in university funding, or 108 million dollars.

June—Floyd announced university employees will not take a 3 percent pay cut, like other state employees across Washington.

July—Floyd announced the university’s initial plan for cuts on his blog. He said the most “controversial” is the consolidation of the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Science, which will eliminate administrative staff and the number of deans. Also included in the plan is the redirection of Intercollegiate Athletic budgets into balancing the overall institutional budget.

August—Gov. Chris Gregoire and director of the Office of Financial Management Marty Brown recommended all state agencies prepare for another round of cuts. They have been asked to propose overviews in case of a 5- and 10-percent reduction in reaction to the September revenue forecast.

Today—Floyd and Bayly will host a budget forum in the Food Science Human Nutrition Building, T 101, at 3:30 pm.

For all the latest budget information, please continue to read The Daily Evergreen, in print and online. See Monday’s paper for full coverage of today’s forum as well as an exclusive interview with President Floyd.

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