PULLMAN, Wash.—Washington State University’s Board of Regents today approved a set of tuition and fee rate increases from 4-16 percent for the 2002-03 academic year.

Tuition increases are needed to protect quality, Karl Boehmke, budget director, told board members when he presented the tuition recommendations. “We believe we have a balance between unwelcome tuition increases and devastating budget cuts,” he said.

Annual undergraduate tuition for Washington residents will increase by $571 to $4,145 and equals the 16 percent limit established by the Legislature, Boehmke said. Raising tuition by a lesser amount would hurt quality, he added.

Nonresident undergraduates will see an increase of $985 or 9 percent to $11,940. The WSU budget director said out-of-state students already pay more than 100 percent of the cost of instruction, but the increase should still ensure that a stable number of nonresidents will enroll at WSU.

Graduate tuition rates will increase 4 percent for both resident and nonresident students. Washington residents will pay $5,763, an increase of $222, while nonresidents will pay $14,602 or $562 more. Graduate tuition at WSU is already above tuition rates at most comparable universities.

Washington students in the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and WWAMI medical programs will pay $10,698, an increase of $1,146 or 12 percent. Nonresidents in the programs also will pay 12 percent or an increase of $2,901 to $27,072. Boehmke said the university’s instructional costs for each student in the programs are more than any other WSU program.

Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) students will see a new level of tuition that will help maintain program quality. However, waivers will be provided current students and those beginning this fall.

For existing resident PharmD students, the new fall rate after waivers will be $6,428, an increase of $887 or 16 percent more than the rate they now pay. Existing students who are not Washington residents will pay $14,927, an increase of $887 or 6.3 percent. Students already admitted to start the program next year will pay $7,289 (Washington residents) or $15,758 (nonresidents.) Individuals admitted to the program in the fall of 2003 will pay $9,039 (Washington residents) or $17,476 (nonresidents).

Student services and activities were increased at the same rates as tuition.

Regents and university faculty and students at the meeting agreed the open process used to develop the tuition increases has strengthened the determination to improve the method of state funding of higher education.

Regent Peter Goldmark said the need to come up with a realistic approach to higher education funding by the state has rallied the institution. “We are resolved to make WSU a better place,” he said.

The WSU Board of Regents also approved the university’s budget plan for the second year of the biennium. WSU President V. Lane Rawlins said funding shortfalls total $25.5 million. The operating budget is more than $16 million short of the amount approved by state lawmakers a year ago. State lawmakers cut WSU’s budget by 5 percent and eliminated salary increases for faculty and staff. Employee benefit funding was reduced by nearly $1 million. An additional reduction of $400,000 from the governor’s office after the budget was passed brought the total state cut to $16.6 million.

Unfunded mandates of $8.9 million make up the rest of the total shortfall. The mandates and priorities include new building maintenance and utilities, faculty recruitment and retention funding, increased energy costs and unfunded institutional commitments.

Regents approved Rawlins’ action plan to meet the cuts. It eliminates the 2.6 percent salary increase, reduces the retention pool from $2.3 million to $.6 million and reduces benefits (effective Jan. 1, 2003). New building maintenance will be absorbed within building operations at each campus. Increased energy costs will be covered by conservation and other measures. These special reductions total $10.6 million. Tuition increases will provide $8.1 million and budget cuts of 3 percent will save $6.8 million to meet the budgeted shortfall. Elimination of faculty and staff positions, too, is expected.

“Many units have been preparing for such cuts and have vacant positions that may be lost in the cuts,” he said.

Rawlins said the budget does include salary increases for faculty members who are promoted this year to a higher rank while 39 percent of the classified staff are due salary boosts based on annual salary step increases.

“These reductions are the latest of many during the past decade,” the budget director said. “There are no easy reductions left to make. Some 87 percent of the budget is devoted to salaries and benefits. Reductions will result in fewer positions.”

University administrators are working to tie budget decisions to the university’s strategic plan. Cuts will begin during the summer, but permanent strategic reductions may be put in place during the next year.

Regents also heard reports on the 2003-05 operating and capital budgets proposals. The board will be reviewing the details of the budgets at its June meeting.

In other action, the WSU board approved a recommendation naming Dr. Robert W. Higgins of Anacortes as the 32nd recipient of the Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus Award, WSU’s top alumni honor.

A retired Navy Rear Admiral, his U.S. Navy career included serving as Navy Deputy Surgeon General and Navy Medical Corps chief. His honors include receiving the highest military peacetime award. He is a past present of the Organization of National Colleges, Academies and Academic Associations of General Practitioners/Family Physicians. His WSU support includes service to the WSU Foundation and the WSU College of Pharmacy.

A Uniontown native and a Pullman High School graduate, Higgins graduated in pharmacy from WSU in 1957. He was a pharmacist for five years before earning his medical degree from the University of Washington Medical School. Rawlins presented Higgins as a nominee for the award based on recommendation of the university’s Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus Award Committee. Higgins will receive his award this fall on campus in Pullman.

Board members also approved the Regents’ Professor designation, a new faculty rank to recognize the exceptional levels of performance. Provost Robert Bates said he expects only a small fraction of the faculty to receive the rank. A salary increase will be given with the rank.

A Master of Architecture degree was approved by the board. It will replace the current five-year Bachelor of Architecture degree, which is consistent with the future requirements of the profession, Bates said. The M.S. degree in kinesiology will now become an M.S. degree in exercise science. The program will move to WSU Spokane effective this fall.

Regents gave approval for the university to begin plans to construct a new energy plant. The facility will supply both steam and electricity to the Pullman campus. The $56 million project would be funded from a $23 million legislative appropriation and from tax-exempt bonds.