Article by James Tinney, WSU News Service

Photos by Bob Hubner, WSU Photo Services
 
 
WSU will cut about 370 jobs, eliminate several academic programs and reorganize some administrative units as part of its preliminary plan to reduce its budget by 10.38 percent or about $54 million for the upcoming biennium.

The job losses will be felt on all four of the university’s campuses and on research and extension units statewide. Of those jobs, 165 represent unfilled positions; the remaining 206 jobs are filled and will be eliminated. The university employs more than 6,200 people statewide.

A complete unit-by-unit breakdown of the budget reductions is available at http://suggest.french.wsu.edu/main/BudgetPlan.aspx.

“In making these reductions, we have tried to be strategic in preserving academic and research quality,” said Elson S. Floyd, president of WSU. “Especially in these difficult budget times, we cannot be all things to all people. We believe these cuts will, to the greatest extent possible, position us to emerge from this economic crisis as a stronger university.

“These cuts are painful and difficult for our university community. Excellent employees will lose jobs. Worthwhile programs will be reduced or eliminated. But we have an obligation to balance our budget in the face of unprecedented budget cuts and this plan will allow us to fulfill that requirement,” Floyd said.

He said the university plans to provide at least a 90-day notice to permanent staff who are given notice of separation.

The release of the preliminary budget will be followed by a month of discussion among the campus community and various stakeholder groups regarding the provisions of the plan. WSU leaders expect to finalize the plan around June 1. The budget will go into effect when the new biennium begins July 1.

Academic programs slated for elimination include the sport management program, the Department of Theatre and Dance, the Department of Community and Rural Sociology and the major in German. Students majoring in those fields will be provided access to courses to allow them to complete their degrees, but new students will not be admitted.

Under the budget plan, the IMPACT (International Marketing Program for Agricultural Commodities and Trade) Center will close, university advertising expenditures will be virtually eliminated, the university’s nine learning centers in communities around the state will close, Beasley Coliseum on the Pullman campus will be run on a self-supporting basis without state funding, the travel services and accounts payable offices will be consolidated and general custodial and maintenance services will be reduced.

The budget-cutting process left some areas of the university largely unscathed. The budget of the College of Nursing was not cut, and the university’s contribution to the WWAMI medical education program was not reduced. The budget for libraries was reduced by $100,000.

“The nursing and WWAMI programs are central to our collaborative efforts to educate medical professionals, who fill a particularly urgent need in rural areas,” Floyd said. “And the libraries are the backbone of any great research university and they must be adequately funded.”

Floyd and Provost and Executive Vice President Warwick M. Bayly will hold an open forum to discuss the budget plan at noon Monday, May 4, in the CUB auditorium on the Pullman campus. The forum will be web-streamed to sites on the Spokane, Tri-Cities and Vancouver campuses and will be available online.