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Regents pass capital, operating budget requests; tuition increase

Entrance to Washington State University's Pullman campus.
Washington State University

SPOKANE, Wash. – Washington State University Board of Regents approved the university’s 2019-21 operating and capital budget requests Friday, May 4, during its regular meeting held on the WSU Spokane campus.

The capital budget request, totals $174.7 million in new projects. It includes, in order:

  • Global Animal Health Building Phase II Construction $36.4 million.
  • Spokane Biomedical and Health Science Phase 2 Construction $500,000.
  • Minor Capital Preservation Pool $43 million.
  • Vancouver Life Sciences Building Design $4 million.
  • STEM Teaching Labs/Building Infrastructure Design/Construction $4.9 million.
  • Tri-Cities Academic Building Construction $27 million.
  • Minor Capital Program Pool $22 million.
  • STEM – Pullman Life/Physical Sciences Building Predesign/Design $500,000.
  • Infrastructure Life/Physical Sciences Design/Construction $10 million.
  • Student Collab Space (Holland Renovation) Design/Construction $9.8 million.
  • STEM – Drive to 25 (Renovations) Design/Construction $9.6 million.
  • Everett Real Estate Purchase $7 million.

The biennial operating budget request includes:

  • Medical Education, Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine (as the college moves from 60-80 medical students), approximately $14.4 million.
  • Salaries for faculty, staff and graduate students, approximately $38.8 million (4 percent increase each of the two years).
  • Maintenance and operations of new buildings, approximately $2.3 million.

The budget requests, above, will be submitted to the Washington Legislature for future funding.

Tuition increase

The regents also approved increases in selected tuition rates. Increases (separate from Services and Activities Fees) include:

  • undergraduate resident tuition from $9,530 to $9,720 (up 2 percent) for academic year 2018-2019.
  • PharmD Resident, an increase from $19,990 to $21,990.
    PharmD Non-Resident, an increase from $36,644 to $38,664.
  • DVM Resident, an increase from $23,358 to $24,994.
    DVM Non-Resident, an increase from $56,588 to $60,550.
  • ESF College of Medicine Resident, an increase from $35,000 to $37,240.

Student fees, technology allocations approved

Services and Activities Fees for summer 2018 and academic year 2018-2019 were also approved as recommended by the Services and Activities Fees committees from each campus: Everett and Tri-Cities, $512, no change; Vancouver $559, no change; Global Campus $20.75, -$3.75; Pullman $537, -$11; and Spokane $582, +$11.

In addition, $647,457 in allocations from the Student Technology Fee Committee for the fiscal year 2019 for the WSU Pullman campus, were authorized. The money is generated by a $20 per semester technology fee for undergraduate students, which began in 2015. According to state regulations, revenues generated by the fee shall be used exclusively for technology resources used by students. To date, more than $4 million has been generated. The money goes for a multitude of costs, including access to cloud programs, wireless upgrades in dorms and student areas, student printing, computer labs, etc.

In addition, $123,084 in allocations from the Student Technology Fee Committee for the fiscal year 2019 for the WSU Vancouver campus were authorized by the regents. Similar to Pullman, the Vancouver fund is generated by a $20 per  semester technology fee for undergraduate students, which began in spring 2017. The spending includes $115,584 for improved WiFi services, and $7,500 for expansion of a student loaner laptop program.

Other action items

The WSU Board of Trustees also:

  • Discussed a regulation approved by the state Legislature in March 2018 regarding the overview of intercollegiate athletics budgets and expenditures. The law requires the regents to review and approve the intercollegiate athletics budget each year, in advance of any expenditures. If there is a deficit at the end of any year, the regents must approve a plan on how the deficit will be reduced. Any expenditure that exceeds $250,000 and is not included in the approved budget, must be authorized in advance.
  • Elected Ron Sims and Brett Blankenship to serve as chair and vice chair of the Board of Regents, respectively, for the year beginning July 1, 2018. The board also approved a modification of its bylaws to accommodate that the vice chair would automatically succeed the chair at the end if the vice chair’s term. The change is designed to provide for a more efficient transition.
  • Approved the establishing of an Institute for Senior Living, in the Carson College of Business.
  • Approved re-establishing a master’s in political science degree program from within the College of Arts and Sciences. Provost Dan Bernardo noted that there is only one other such program in the state public system, hosted by Western Washington University.
  • Approved creation of the School of Languages, Cultures and Race, and the discontinuation of the Department of Foreign Languages and Cultures. The new school will be comprised of all faculty from the Department of Foreign Languages and Cultures and selected faculty (those identified as the faculty in Comparative Ethnic Studies) from the Department of Critical Culture, Gender and Race.
  • Approved establishment of the Alexandra Navrotsky Institute for Experimental Thermodynamics, within Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture.
  • Voted to discontinue the university’s traditional face-to-face Master’s in Business Administration program at WSU Pullman and WSU Vancouver. Carson College of Business, however, will continue offering its highly successful online MBA program.
  • Approved establishment of an online Master of Arts in Health Communication and Promotion program, through the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication.
  • Approved, in concept, plans for the creation of a medical technology incubator, which would operate in an integrated way with the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. Once created, the university would own a percentage of any participating health tech company. As such, successful companies would help generate royalties and future income for the university. A detailed report — outlining how the program will be structured and how WSU will contract with companies — will be provided to the regents in September, before final approval is considered.
  • Authorized the sale of 6 or 9.5 acres of real property which serves as part of the Wenatchee Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center. The headquarters of the WTFREC is located in the city of Wenatchee. Some research is conducted at the headquarters but most of the research is performed at other WTFREC properties in the Wenatchee area. Housing developments are encroaching on the area surrounding the WTFREC headquarters, and as a result, the headquarters property has become less desirable for research. Property has been valued at about $1-1.53 million.
  • Authorized the lease of approximately 150 acres of agricultural land at the Roza Unit of the WSU Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center located in Prosser for a period of 10 years and 4 months with the potential for two 5-year renewals.
  • Authorized WSU to enter into the Third Amended and Restated Interagency Agreement with Olympic College in Bremerton.
  • Delegated authority to the President Kirk Schulz to ratify WSU collective bargaining agreements negotiated with the exclusive representatives of WSU classified employees bargaining units.

Finance, Human Resources Modernization Initiative

On Thursday, a regent’s committee discussed the proposed launching and funding of a new universitywide computer program system that would handle all financial and human resource data. This issue will be brought up for a vote at the June regent’s meeting.

The Modernization Initiative Project is a universitywide effort to replace WSU’s 38-year-old mainframe system and processes. By acting immediately, administrators hope to prevent any system failure and improve support for WSU’s growing research and instruction activities.

The payroll and finance system is coded in a programing language no longer taught in school, and has no vendor support available. Consequently, WSU faces a rapid decline in ability to support the system.

It is estimated that it will take three years to complete the initiative.

Administrators are proposing two steps in the financing of the project:

  • A one-time agreement with Workday, Inc. to provide core finance and human resources software at a cost not to exceed $30,000,000, and to be paid for primarily through public bonds not to exceed 5.5 percent interest. This item would require external financing and be repaid in no more than 22 years. The regents are being asked to authorize and delegate authority to President Schulz or his designee to enter into any contracts necessary to complete the initiative within the budgeted amount.
  • Plans for an on-going cost of approximately $7,000,000 per year, that will include annual software subscription costs, security and authentication; dedicated project staffing; change management; training; functional service desk; data conversion and testing software, and other costs.

Stacy Pearson, WSU’s vice president for finance and administration, noted that the current system demands a lot of labor and maintenance that translate into costs.

Trustees asked how the university will ensure that it doesn’t fall into the same position in the future. Pearson noted that part of the $7 million annual cost includes steps to keep the system up to date.

Several regents, including Ted Baseler and Heather Redman, asked if there were plans in place to assure systemwide training and compliance, security, the avoidance of program customization, and utilizing best practices. Pearson and Matt Skinner, associate vice president for finance, outlined how the current plan addresses each of those issues.

Skinner said that “a surety comes from having a system that has a broad client base.” The Workday system is used by a wide number of universities, including UW, Texas A&M, LSU, Cornell, Yale, University of Las Vegas system, and many other, as well as a number of large corporations like Amazon, Johnson & Johnson. That broad client usage helps ensure that the system will be consistently maintained and kept current.

Trustee Don Barbieri described the proposed solution as “flexible, smart and much needed,” but encouraged administrators to consider “stress testing” the university’s finances and the ability to pay for the project through existing bond systems, without adding to the university’s debt.

 Media Contact:

  • Phil Weiler, vice president for marketing and communication, 509-335-4742,

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