PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University President V. Lane Rawlins told faculty, staff and students Tuesday (Sept. 17) during his annual Fall Address that the university will do better with more state support, “but we have set a course and plan to move ahead.
“Certainly, the current fiscal situation could create a destructive internal fight for scarce resources and give us excuses for why we cannot reach our goals,” the president said. “But we could also consider that if we can work together we can raise more resources and manage better that which we have — which is the spirit of abundance that promotes community. I think it is more a matter of our choice than the circumstances.”
Rawlins said the opportunity is expressed in WSU’s strategic plan that sets an ambitious course. It was based on assumptions about the use of the university’s existing resources and its ability internally to generate new resources.
Rawlins said the key is to work together as a community. “There will always be some competition for resources, but we must not let that be the defining element of our community. Instead, let us be a place that makes a plan and follows it to distinction,” he said.
The president reinforced the plan’s four goals:
“First, we are committed to excellence in everything we do. If we cannot do it well, let’s consider not doing it at all,” he said. “Generating and maintaining this spirit, or culture, requires that all of us support the universal goals and become part of something that really makes a difference. It means that we recognize and reward outstanding performance of individuals and units. And, it means that we come to expect more of each other.”
“Second, we must develop greater trust and respect across the university, in all areas of endeavor,” Rawlins said. “I have always believed in the power of trust and high expectations. We must assure that in our workplace we give people respect and give them a chance to be creative. I believe that everyone needs to be given every opportunity to use their talents, and we need these contributions.”
The president said the third overarching goal is to conduct world-class research and graduate education and be engaged with the community in a transformational way. “This is a statement of our intent to be ‘world class.’ It is bold but I believe it captures a purpose and a commitment that most of you share,” Rawlins said.
The president said a fourth goal is to make a commitment to WSU students, especially the undergraduates, that from this focused environment, where excellence is expected and people learn to work together, the university will give them the best education possible. “They should leave here with the tools and the confidence to succeed and contribute to society,” he said.
Rawlins said university leaders are making some big promises — “promises that we intend to be center stage in the next generation of prominent universities,” he said.
The president also shared his list of the ten greatest accomplishments over the last year.
10. WSU’s administrative team is established. Among those now at WSU are Provost Robert Bates, Vice President for Student Affairs, Charlene Jaeger, Vice President for Development Rick Frisch, and Athletic Director Jim Sterk. Some leaders who have been with us several years are in new positions, including Greg Royer, vice president for business and finance; Sally Savage, vice president for university relations; Mary Doyle, vice president for information technology; and Karl Boehmke, executive director of Budget and Planning.
9. In the midst of a serious recession, WSU raised the fourth highest total in our history, nearly $43 million, to support our highest priorities.
8. New facilities, landscaping and campus improvements. From beautification to replacement of infrastructure, our facilities planners, maintenance, and other support workers are creating usable and more effective campuses. Opening the Smith Center for Undergraduate Education, reworking so much of our infrastructure and roadways, and plans for new research facilities, are among the highlights. Also, at the newer campuses a sense of place is emerging and each campus is developing a personality and character.
7. The general image is vastly improved. By aggressively telling people what WSU students and faculty do here, all of the indicators suggest that we are improving our image as a first-class university and all that it entails.
6. The team approach to budget problems, especially with the way the tuition increase was fully discussed, students were consulted. Regents came to campus for hearings, and proposals were modified.
5. Increased energy from our new campuses, extension, and university outreach generally in support of higher education.
4. Increasing faculty strength and recognition.
3. Handling adversity. Beginning with 9/11 our resolve and strength was tested. Hundreds of staff and faculty reached out, remained calm, tried to educate and promote understanding.
2. Growing strength in research, as indicated by an 18 percent growth to well over $100 million in research expenditures
1. WSU attracted the kind of entering class that is necessary for it to build the strength, reputation. Some 36.6 percent of the class entered WSU with high school GPAs of at least a 3.6.
Rawlins said he was also pleased that the strategic plan was finished, published and approved during the last year.
The president said he will continue to keep salaries as a priority. “We have reduced other budgets so that the proposed recruitment and retention pool, nearly $2 million dollars, will be restored. Seventy-five percent of this will go directly to the provost for selected salary adjustments,” the president said.
He also reminded the university community of a very aggressive public campaign this year that asks for an increase in WSU’s base budget “as our first, and almost only, priority.” That base increase is intended for salary increase and enhancements to priority programs. The university also has ambitious capital plans, largely to increase its research capacity and enhance the newer campuses.
“I will be embarking on a state tour with President Richard McCormick of the University of Washington to call attention to the fact that we intend to protect quality.”