June 18, 2020
Dear Faculty and Staff:
As we continue to work together as a community to address all
of the challenges presented by COVID‑19 and simultaneously
fulfill our mission to the people of the state, I want to update
you about the process we have kicked off to address one of our most
critical issues—the University’s budget for the 2020–21 fiscal year.
As you know, in May I announced that all units across the system
would be asked to prepare plans reducing their budgets by 10% to meet
the steep declines in state revenues due to the pandemic. At the same
time, I shared 4 guiding principles we would apply in preparing
the budget-cutting scenarios: prioritizing core and mission critical
activities; protecting as many WSU jobs as possible, particularly
those of our lower-earning faculty and staff; increasing revenue-generating
opportunities; and aligning the budget to achieve financial sustainability
After your hard work to reduce unit spending for 3 consecutive
fiscal years to restore the University’s overall fiscal health, I
was looking forward to investing additional monies in our academic and
research enterprise in the next fiscal year. Many units were anticipating
hiring outstanding new faculty and staff colleagues to fill positions that
had been held open for several years. In short, it is discouraging for
all of us to now face yet another budget-reduction scenario.
Nonetheless, we have put in place a process that ensures transparency
and widespread participation in our effort to grapple with reduced funding.
This is a team exercise, and we will stay focused on making decisions for
the good of the entire WSU system. I deeply appreciate the efforts
of the entire Coug community to once again roll up its collective sleeves
to tackle this newest challenge.
Here is a step‑by‑step summary of the budget reduction
process to date and the steps ahead of us:
- All chancellors, vice presidents, and deans have completed
scenarios that reduce their Permanent Budget Line (PBL) funds by 10%.
- On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week, each chancellor,
vice president, and dean participated in Zoom meetings during
which they presented their proposals to meet the 10% reduction. We
invited leadership from the Faculty Senate, Administrative Professional
Advisory Council (APAC), Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA),
and WSU System Student Government Council (SGC) to listen to and
participate in these sessions.
- With these presentations now completed, Vice President of Finance
and Administration Stacy Pearson and her team will work on several scenarios
based on the data and information we received.
- The Executive Committee of the President’s Cabinet (myself,
Interim Provost Bryan Slinker, incoming Provost Elizabeth Chilton,
Vice President Pearson, Vice President of Health Sciences
Daryll DeWald, Vice President of Research Chris Keane, Vice President
of Student Affairs Mary Jo Gonzales, and Office of the President
Chief of Staff Christine Hoyt) will then evaluate and discuss these
options. The committee will develop a proposed set of budget reductions
to meet the 10% goal.
- This proposal then will be shared with a variety of leadership groups
across the University system (the full President’s Cabinet, deans,
Faculty Senate, APAC, GPSA, SGC) in early July for feedback and critique.
We will discuss how the proposed reductions fit our budget principles
- The Executive Committee will review the feedback and recommendations
from various meetings and make any needed modifications to the original
- We will send out a campus communication in mid‑July outlining
the budget reductions and the reasons for them.
- We will continue to closely monitor the ongoing financial challenges
created by COVID‑19 as well as the University’s overall
financial picture. Federal and state revenues, tuition income, and the
success of enhanced WSU revenue-generating activities are among
the factors that will continue to shape our budget situation and
influence financial decisions beyond the middle of July.
At the end of the day, no process is perfect
and there never will be complete agreement concerning fiscal decisions.
However, we will continue to communicate transparently and regularly so
that everyone is aware of the magnitude and potential impact of the cuts
and understands where and why they were implemented.
It also will be important that we clearly document the negative effects
these budget cuts will have on our ability to teach, support students,
conduct research, and engage with our communities. Although I appreciate
that higher education often—and especially we Cougs—finds ways
to do things creatively, we ultimately hurt ourselves by expecting to
provide the same levels of service with 10% fewer funds.
Please let me know if you have any questions about our process as
Kirk Schulz, President
Washington State University