PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University’s Board of Regents applauded the system’s return to a balanced operating budget for the first time since 2013, commending President Kirk Schulz, faculty and staff for achieving the goal a full year ahead of schedule.
“I’m grateful for the improved financial picture we are looking at here at Washington State University. That positive outlook is thanks to President Kirk Schulz, his executive team and the faculty and staff of this university,” said Brett Blankenship, chair of WSU’s Board of Regents. “Our improved financial outlook enables us to continue to fulfill our land grant mission.”
The latest figures from the close of the 2019 fiscal year, which ended June 30, show WSU’s operating budget ended with a positive balance of about $7.8 million. Initially, the University was projected to have its first balanced operating budget during the 2020 fiscal year.
Schulz, who took the helm at WSU in 2016, announced the accomplishment in a message to students, faculty and staff last month, praising the work of the entire WSU system and pledging to now begin rebuilding the University’s central reserve funds.
In previous years, a series of strategic investments that included expanded classroom space, the new medical college, development of WSU Everett, construction of new athletic facilities and other priorities required tapping into the central reserve funds to help cover the annual cost of operating the university system. Under the Fiscal Health Initiative, which Schulz launched in 2017, all departments are required to develop plans to increase revenue or reduce spending by 2.5 percent per year through 2020 to steadily eliminate reliance on central reserves for ongoing operating expenses.
The operating deficit had grown to about $30 million annually, nearly depleting a University reserve fund that at one point topped $120 million. Schulz now wants to begin rebuilding the University’s reserves and will use the spending reductions called for in the current fiscal year to get started on that.
Board of Regents Vice Chair Marty Dickinson praised departments for their efforts to dig deep to ensure the budget is balanced and work toward rebuilding reserves. She also noted the important role WSU plays in educating the medical professionals of the future and the need to financially support those programs accordingly.
“We have a tremendous responsibility as a university to make sure our medical and veterinary students can stay true to their oaths,” Dickinson said.
Meanwhile, progress also is being made on the Athletics Department’s annual operating deficit, which has shrunk from $13.7 million in fiscal year 2014 to a projected $7.1 million at the end of the most recent fiscal year. Athletics is on track to eliminate its annual deficit by fiscal year 2024.
For more information on WSU’s fiscal health plan, visit wsu.edu/fiscal-health.
Phil Weiler, vice president for marketing and communications, 509-595-1708, firstname.lastname@example.org