A week ago, I sent an email describing a few of the
actions we are taking to reduce university spending
current fiscal year. Cutting the budget is not something we take lightly. In fact, it’s agonizing for our entire
community. The decisions we make can, and in some cases, will, substantially change the lives of our students, our
faculty, and our staff.
Yet, no matter how much I and other members of the leadership team regret the necessity of these actions, we have
no choice. WSU’s system-wide budget has been overspent by about $25 million a year each of the last four years. As
a consequence, we have tapped into our financial reserves in order to pay bills, reducing those reserves from about
$200 million in FY 13 to slightly less than $100 million last year. We must take immediate, firm steps to
restore the University’s financial stability.
There is no ideal way to communicate challenging financial information. Budget-related communications must be
frequent, timely, and fact-based. In our effort to keep you better informed about University-level financial
decisions, our leadership team has committed to sending monthly budget updates to the WSU community. We have also
asked all chancellors, vice presidents, and deans to communicate directly to their respective students, faculty,
and staff about the impact of spending reductions in their areas.
I understand there will be anxiety, uncertainty, and fear as we reduce spending during the next 3 years. I
encourage you to ask questions and voice your concerns going forward. We will be transparent as discussions take
place and decisions are made.
Do we have budget challenges to solve? Yes. Will we find ways to continue to ensure an exceptional student
experience at Washington State University? Yes. Thank you for all that you do on behalf of the University.
Each of the last two years, Provost Dan Bernardo and I have hosted town hall-style meetings for our campuses,
colleges, and other units during the fall. The meetings bring the community together to celebrate the University’s
progress and discuss our challenges. The sessions are also one of my favorite activities of the year because of
the opportunity they offer to connect and reconnect with our tremendously talented and hard-working faculty, staff,
and students across the state.
This September, Dan and I participated in 16 town halls and highlighted system-, campus-, and college-specific
successes, the Drive to 25, WSU’s budget, and some of our priority University initiatives. We also engaged in some
lively discussions with our audiences, which reminded me again of the passion of our community for the University.
If you didn’t have the opportunity to attend one of the town halls, you can review the
information shared in the presentations
We have organized the material so that you can view the
core presentation shared with all audiences
as well as the information specific to a particular campus
I hope you will take a look at the online material—there is much to celebrate institution-wide. In the event you
are pressed for time, below are a few highlights from the presentations:
Drive to 25
- We continue to increase system-wide enrollment, with 30,614 students enrolled across 6 campuses
fall semester. We also continue to recruit and enroll an increasingly diverse group of students, and the
academic credentials of the students we enroll are increasing.
- We raised more than $122 million last year in private fundraising. We are
also actively preparing for our next major fundraising campaign.
- We continue to attract outstanding leaders to senior leadership positions at
the University. We have significantly diversified the race and gender balance of our senior leadership team
during the past 2 years.
- Our Research and Development expenditures totaled just over $334 million
last year—testament to the great ideas and perseverance of WSU faculty, staff, and students.
- We enjoyed a great year of on- and off-the-field success as a member of the
Pac-12 Conference. Several teams played in the postseason, and 148 of our students received All-Conference
- We continue to progress in our goal to be ranked as one of the top 25 public research universities in
the country by 2030.
- We have identified 11 metrics to measure our progress, including AAU metrics,
peer-comparison metrics, and WSU-specific metrics.
- Groups of faculty, staff, and students are working on action plans for each
of the 11 metrics. These plans will be published online in early 2018 for comment and critique.
Priority University initiatives
- We have overspent the University budget for the previous 4 years by approximately $25 million each year
as illustrated below. This overspending has decreased the University’s reserves by 56% since FY 2013—from
about $200 million to slightly less than $100 million. Rebuilding our reserves is critical to the
institution’s long-term fiscal health.
Click graph to enlarge
- The last fiscal year in which we brought in more money than we spent was
- Our goal is to reduce our annual deficit spending to $20 million this year,
to $10 million the following year, and to balance revenues and expenditures in FY 2020.
- We continue to look at ways to increase revenue at the university and
- The WSU-INTO partnership has met first year enrollment goals of enrolling about 160 new students fall
semester. We are on track to meet new mid-year enrollment goals.
- We continue to work on campus climate issues, with several groups focused
on specific tasks. As promised at the conclusion of the spring semester, a national search for an associate
vice president for equity, diversity, and inclusion is underway. The position will manage all of the
University’s resources focused on diversity issues.
- Expansion of our Global Campus programming remains a priority, with plans
underway to add another 11 academic degrees by next academic year.
- We continue to grow our High Performance Computing Resources (HPC) (Kamiak)
to keep pace with explosive growth in research and scholarship by WSU faculty, staff, and students in HPC.
- The online academic resources available to our students are growing, helping
to address affordability issues related to the cost of textbooks, in particular.
- We are refining WSU Insider, our new internal communications-focused website/e-newsletter, which
is designed to keep the WSU community statewide better informed about the University.
I appreciate all of the faculty, staff, and students who turned out for the town halls, particularly given how
busy the beginning of the semester is for everyone. Attendance was higher than last year, but I want to ensure
moving ahead that these presentations and engagement with you are helpful. If you have suggestions for improving
next year’s sessions, please drop me a note
I also want to congratulate Dr. M. Kariuki Njenga on his recent election to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM).
Election to the national academies is incredibly selective, recognizing faculty who are engaged in truly world-class
research and scholarship. Kariuki’s accomplishments and election to NAM is additional compelling evidence of the
quality of our faculty. The honor also advances our #Driveto25
metric focused on increasing the number of our
National Academy members. I invite you to learn more about Kariuki’s career
and his efforts to address emerging