Budget Update IV

As you may know, the Washington State Senate requested that WSU provide an estimate of the impacts of a 12 and 18 percent budget reduction to the university’s 2009-11 biennial budget. Last Friday, every college turned in their scenarios of how they would meet 12 and 20 percent budget reductions. Non-academic units completed the same exercise. President Floyd and Provost Bayly are reviewing those proposals and will use them to develop the university’s response to the legislature. That response, which will be an aggregated rather than itemized list of impacts, is due this Thursday, Feb. 5.

Our prioritization plan focuses on assuring that we have the capacity to continue to deliver our highest priority teaching, research, and outreach programs and maintain program excellence where it is measurable and documented. These decisions are guided by the university and CAHNRS strategic plans, the most recent Academic Affairs Program Prioritization (A2P2) recommendations from the Provost, and unit-level productivity metrics. We have avoided across-the-board reductions. Unit-level administrators made important contributions to the college proposal by developing plans for meeting up to a 5 percent reduction in their unit.

It is important to remember that everything being developed is still only a scenario to inform the legislative process. At this point, no program is being cut; no employee is being terminated. It is early in the legislature’s budget deliberations and what is finally approved most certainly will look differently than the information WSU has developed. When budget decisions are finalized and we know what CAHNRS programs will be significantly impacted, we will contact the respective program leadership and department chairs to answer questions and to schedule face-to-face meetings with employees, faculty, and staff.

In these turbulent times, it is easy to become distracted by budget pressures and focus on budget reduction planning, as opposed to opportunity seeking. Our best defense against budget reductions is to expand our funding base through extramural grants, contracts, gifts, and other non-governmental sources. Faculty and staff continue to make progress in this area, and we should continue to channel our energies in this direction.

Our goal is to communicate as quickly and clearly as possible throughout this process. I appreciate your patience and cooperation.