A planning exercise that projects a 10 percent budget reduction at WSU is getting underway system-wide.

WSU President Kirk Schulz announced the effort in an email sent to faculty and staff Tuesday afternoon. The exercise will prepare the university for expected cuts in state funding due to declining revenues following the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.

“This is an exercise in anticipation of what may be required to balance the state’s budget,” Schulz wrote in his email. “The truth is, at this point we simply do not have enough information to know what our funding picture will look like.”

The state of Washington is still compiling revenue data and likely won’t have an accurate picture of the budget until later in June. The legislature is likely to be called into special session to make budget decisions once the data is available.

The president’s email also outlined four core principles that will guide any budget cuts WSU implements:

We will prioritize core and mission-critical activities to support high quality academic delivery.

  • Funding of essential student support services to ensure the accessibility of a WSU education will be maintained.

We will work to sustain as many WSU jobs as possible.

  • A variety of options will be considered, including system-wide salary reductions based on salary levels, retirement incentives, changes to annual contracts (such as changing 12‑month to nine‑month contracts) and alternative work schedules. The goal will be to minimize the financial impact on lower-paid faculty and staff.

We will maintain a focus on revenue generation, including accelerating revenue enhancement opportunities, in fiscally responsible ways.

  • Units will be encouraged to engage in innovative and entrepreneurial activities that boost revenues. Similarly, opportunities to expand master’s programs and 4+1 academic programs that generate revenue will be explored.

We will align the budget to achieve financial sustainability across all WSU campuses and locations.

  • All budget decisions will be made with the best interests of the entire WSU system in mind.

Schulz noted that additional, frequent communications are planned to keep the community informed as the state’s financial picture becomes clearer.