Message from President Elson S. Floyd | Send to a Friend
Washington State University Office of the President
August 13, 2010

To the Washington State University Community:

Last week, I was in Olympia and Seattle, engaging in discussions with the governor, legislators, and key business leaders regarding the fiscal crisis affecting our state budget and the associated implications for higher education funding.

The news is not good. We could face a $3 billion shortfall in the state’s overall budget in the upcoming biennium. On Thursday, Governor Gregoire reported that tax collections continue to come in below projections and told state agencies to prepare for additional cuts of between 4 and 7 percent.

While we have seen this type of deficit before, never have these shortfalls occurred in such rapid succession. In 2008-09, WSU was required to return to the state $10.5 million of its 2007-2009 biennial appropriation. This was followed by the 2009-11 biennial reduction of $54 million. Currently, we are managing our way through the 2010-11 budget reduction of $13.5 million.

It is extremely difficult to maintain the quality of our University under these circumstances. However, that is the ultimate task and that standard is not negotiable.

Addressing this budget shortfall will require a range of actions. In addition to reducing the previously planned level of new student enrollment as I discussed in my recent Perspectives column, we must take a hard look at the current administrative structure of WSU.

In analyzing this matter, the following principles were used:

  • Administrative units must have a vice president as the appointing authority.
  • Economies of scale and administrative efficiencies must increase.
  • Customer/student services must improve.
  • The overall administrative structure must be simplified.
  • The number of vice presidents must be reduced.

The goal of this effort is to realize budget savings while we continue to meet our overall strategic priorities as an institution.

The following is a summary of the resulting changes:

The Office of Enrollment Management and the Division of Student Affairs, Equity and Diversity will be combined into the Office of Student Affairs, Equity and Diversity, and Enrollment Management. The Student Recreation Center, Housing and Dining Services, and the Compton Union Building will be added to this division for administrative purposes. With this change, all of the programs and services for our students will be centrally managed and supported. This unit will be led by John Fraire.

The position of vice president for development, which is currently vacant, will be eliminated as will the vice president for university relations position. I have already discussed with the volunteer leadership of the WSU Foundation my desire to discontinue the search for a vice president for development at this time.

The current University Relations structure, including the offices of Alumni Relations, Events and Outreach, Marketing and Creative Services, Internal and External Communications, and University Publishing, will join with the Office of University Development to create the Office of University Advancement. The WSU Visitor Center will be moved from the Office of Business & Finance into the new Advancement unit. Remarkable synergies will be created with this change and unnecessary duplication of services will be eliminated.

That office will report to John Gardner, currently the vice president for economic development and global engagement, who will become vice president for university advancement and external affairs.

As part of this reorganization, the separate and independent 501(c)(3) status of the WSU Alumni Association, the WSU Foundation, and the WSU Research Foundation will be preserved. These units will be aligned under John Gardner.

The director of government relations position will be eliminated and reorganized. The position of associate vice president for external affairs and chief legislative officer is being created to oversee both state and federal governmental and legislative affairs as a combined unit. We have named Colleen Kerr to that position. She comes to WSU after serving as deputy chief of staff for the Washington State Senate Democratic Caucus and the legislative director for State Senator Lisa Brown of Spokane.

Currently, federal and state relations are separate with each reporting to the president. While administratively housed within University Advancement, all of the functions within University Advancement and External Affairs will have a close and direct working relationship with the president.

This new organizational configuration reduces the total number of vice presidents from nine to six. I would expect budget savings of between $700,000 to $900,000 resulting from these actions, although the ultimate savings will depend on a number of personnel actions and salary adjustments, which will be determined going forward.

Most important, this streamlined organizational structure will redefine our institutional engagement and service delivery for years ahead. We will be working within this structure to identify future savings to meet future budget needs.

Streamlining the administrative leadership of WSU will require all of us to work smarter, harder and faster. I have no doubt that the WSU family is up to the task.

Please click on this link to view the existing and new organization charts. We will begin this consolidation immediately with full completion expected no later than Sept. 15, 2010.

I greatly appreciate the endorsements already received from many of you concerning these actions. Your service and work on behalf of WSU are both recognized and appreciated. Thank you for all you do for our University.


Elson S. Floyd, Ph.D.
Pullman • Spokane • Tri-Cities • Vancouver • Extension
Office of the President, Washington State University, PO Box 641048, Pullman WA 99164-1048