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WSU Ag, Home Ec Budget Cut $1.27 Million

PULLMAN, Wash. — The permanent budget for the Washington State University College of Agriculture and Home Economics will be reduced by $1.27 million, effective July 1.

Dean James Zuiches said that the college’s budget reduction of about 3.5 percent is part of WSU’s $6.8 million budget reduction to cope with a cut in state appropriations.

The state reduced the university budget by more than 5 percent and failed to fund some mandated expenditures. Tuition increases and other actions offset some of the funding shortfall.

The cut will impact 41 faculty positions. Some are vacant and will be eliminated. Others will be reduced or appointments will be changed to work on projects not supported by state funds. Zuiches said there will be no faculty layoffs. Impacts on other employees are still being determined.

The Agricultural Research Center budget will be reduced 3 percent, some $540,984. Cooperative extension and academic programs will take 3.5 percent cuts, which will be $428,065 and $304,729, respectively.

“The budget reduction imposed by the legislature will critically impact our mission by reducing the number of faculty members and support employees needed for our programs,” said Ralph Cavalieri, research director.

Research positions eliminated or partially cut involve six faculty, four farm and field workers, 21 research technicians, one graduate research assistant and seven administrative and office staff, Cavalieri reported.

“These losses reduce — and in some cases, eliminate — delivery of research in food science, horticulture, crop science, and pest management in plant pathology and entomology. These disciplines contribute to a safe and abundant food and fiber supply,” Cavalieri said.

“Losses erode delivery of research in international marketing and the global competitiveness of our crops, sustainability of agricultural and economic systems, and the stewardship of natural resources and ecological systems.

“The cuts also decrease research programs promoting the nutritional well-being of individuals, and community development,” Cavalieri said.

Positions on the Pullman Campus and at research and extension centers across the state are impacted. In some instances, employees will be retained, but programs will be eliminated.

An example is the hybrid poplar breeding program. Cavalieri said horticulturist Jon Johnson will continue to do research on hybrid poplar, but he no longer will be able to do breeding or maintain the breeding material.

Nine faculty positions in teaching will be affected. Academic Programs Director Vicki McCracken said, “Loss of permanent faculty lines, graduate teaching assistance and funds to hire temporary faculty will require that we cancel 16 courses in six departments and eliminate two majors.”

“We will make revisions to maintain the quality of teaching and advising for which the college is known,” McCracken said.

Director Michael Tate said cooperative extension will lose 16 faculty positions and a yet to be determined number of support positions. “Reductions will be met through elimination of currently vacant faculty and support staff positions,” he said.

“Continued budget reductions will compromise program quality and integrity and reduce educational programs such as agriculture, food safety and quality, environmental stewardship, human nutrition, health, economic development and youth development. They will seriously limit extension’s ability to respond to issues and problems of the state.”

Tate said reduced state funding is magnified by loss of matching funds from local government and organizations with which extension has partnerships.

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