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Regents approve tuition increase, athletics budget and honey bee research facility acquisition

Attendees listening during the WSU Board of Regents retreat at WSU Tri-Cities.
WSU Board of Regents met Friday, June 7, 2019 on the WSU Tri‑Cities campus. (photo by WSU Tri‑Cities)

RICHLAND, Wash. — The Washington State University Board of Regents today approved a 2.4 percent increase to both resident and nonresident tuition, and signed off on the fiscal year 2020 Athletics budget during a retreat on the Tri‑Cities campus.

The Regents also authorized the purchase of a $2.5 million research facility in Othello to serve as the new home of the WSU Honey Bee and Pollinator Research and Education Program.

Tuition increase

The new graduate and undergraduate tuition rates for the 2019–20 academic year are expected to generate an estimated $5 million in additional annual revenue. The money will help WSU cover increased costs of health insurance and cost‑of‑living increases for faculty, including graduate students, and staff.

State law gives the governing boards of Washington’s public universities the authority to set tuition rates, though a series of economic indicators are used to set restrictions on how much certain tuition categories can be raised in any given year.

The 2019–20 tuition increase is the first in seven years for graduate and non‑resident students.

Athletics remains committed to balanced budget by 2023

As part of WSU’s fiscal health restoration plan, the Athletics Department has committed to balancing its budget by 2023.

The effort relies on increasing revenue 27 percent by Fiscal Year 2023 while continuing to contain expenses. This approach will slow the rate of debt accumulation, which is expected to reach a projected total of up to $103 million by FY 2022, before stabilizing. The new projected total represents a $17 million increase over last year’s projection.

The higher projected deficit level is primarily a result of a change in how capital projects are accounted for, which in previous years were not included in the operating budget. This accounting change represents the largest share of the approximately $17 million change in the accumulated deficit projection. The rest is the result of increases in expenses associated with the change in the men’s basketball head coaching position and a delay in expected new revenues.

New honey bee research facility

The planned $2.5 million purchase of a nearly 50‑acre plot of land, which includes various research and support buildings, outside of Othello, Wash., will provide a new home for WSU’s Honey Bee and Pollinator Research and Education program.

WSU has a renowned global research program leading the field in understanding and improving honey bee and pollinator health through breeding and commercial scale experimentation. However, the program has been limited in its research capacity by the lack of an appropriate facility.

The Othello facility has been visited by WSU scientists, administrators, and key stakeholders. All agree it is ideal for current and future purposes.

Acquisition of the facility will enable the honey bee and pollinator research and education program to continue its innovative honey bee breeding program; expand the program on honey bee colony health and nutrition; conduct research at the same scale as commercial beekeepers; and provide an all‑in‑one, centrally located facility for workshops, extension presentations, short courses, graduate and undergraduate research and training, and information dissemination.

Donors have made cash gifts of over $1.8 million, which will be used to help secure the timely purchase of the Othello property from the Monsanto Company. The company previously used the facility for research and corn growing operations.

It decided to sell the property after its acquisition by Bayer in 2018, at which time Bayer determined the Othello research operations should be relocated to other Bayer properties.

Media contact:

  • Phil Weiler, vice president of marketing and communications, 509‑335‑1221,

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