PULLMAN, Wash. Washington State University officials are hoping the affordability of state higher education will be restored this year by the state Legislature, which reconvenes on Jan. 14. The past two biennial Washington state budgets contained unprecedented cuts in state appropriations and prompted a combined 75 percent increase in student tuition.
WSU President Elson S. Floyd said the university will, once again, promote a state budget that “protects, to the greatest extent possible, funding for our students and our university and places our state on a solid financial footing for the future.
“The relationship between state appropriation and tuition rates remains ironclad, he said. “Only a strong state appropriation will return badly needed stability, predictability and affordability to the tuition rates of our states institutions of higher education.
Prepared last month, WSUs 2013 Legislative agenda focuses on securing state support to allow the university to leverage existing public and private partnerships, promote interdisciplinary research and preserve the quality of academic programs.
As a land-grant institution with a variety of public and private partnerships in virtually every county in the state, WSU is seeking support to leverage those partnerships in three programmatic areas:
To bring communications, electrical engineering and hospitality business management to the collaborative University Center of North Puget Sound in Everett beginning this fall, WSU is seeking $2 million.
To hire new faculty to bring second year medical education to the Spokane Riverpoint campus using the existing WWAMI model and establish a biomedical research foundation there, WSU is seeking $5 million.
To establish four research teams to develop new strategies for combating infectious diseases transmitted from animals to humans, leveraging private investments that launched the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health in Pullman, WSU is seeking $7.2 million.
WSUs primary capital need is the establishment of suitable laboratory space and appropriate infrastructure to support high-quality engineering and scientific research in two areas:
To construct a Clean Technology Laboratory Building to house interdisciplinary research teams pursuing advancements in sustainable design, air and water quality and advanced materials, WSU is seeking $55.2 million.
For pre-design of a Plant Sciences Building and design of the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic and Research Facility, both in Pullman, WSU is seeking $500,000 and $5.3 million, respectively.
Additionally, WSU will seek to preserve academic quality and increase competitiveness by asking that the existing, four-year-long freeze on salaries be allowed to lapse by mid-year and that new funding be provided for salary increases on a performance and merit basis. Average faculty salaries are 15 percent below WSUs state-selected peer group, and that gap is expected to grow to 22 percent by the end of the 2013-15 biennium if no action is taken.
Follow the Legislature on WSUs government relations Web page here: http://governmentrelations.wsu.edu/