In this last budget missive of the year, there really isn’t much new information to share. The numbers haven’t changed in terms of the cash claw back or the permanent cuts for FY10. It is too early to tell what the next legislative session will bring. So, with the help of our associate deans, department chairs, R&E center directors and unit leaders, we are working our way through a plan that allows us to meet the targets we were given with as little damage as possible.
There are some clouds gathering on the budget horizon. You’ve most likely seen the headlines regarding Gov. Gregoire’s budget proposal; it includes significant across-the-board reductions, including for Washington higher education and WSU. It is important to remember that the Governor’s budget is simply a proposal; many changes will be made to this budget before a final budget is passed by the Legislature. Some legal issues have already been raised around such issues as the proposed 6 percent cap on state retirement contributions. These will have to be sorted out in the months to come. The Washington Legislature convenes on Jan. 10, and it will take some time for them to grapple with the fiscal issues the state faces.
Yesterday, Provost Bayly came and spoke to the CAHNRS and Extension leadership and answered questions for about an hour. The Provost reaffirmed his commitment to not pass down further budget reductions to colleges and address future budget shortfalls with such measures as university reorganization, tuition increases, differential tuition, and vertical budget cuts (program elimination). I remain hopeful that we have ended the era of “trimming around the edges” within every college and unit across the university and will define what a smaller, more focused WSU might look like. We have already done this in CAHNRS and Extension; it is high time for the remainder of the university to follow suit.
People are frightened. That is completely understandable given the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Yet, I urge all of us not to be paralyzed by the “what ifs.” The fact is we all have important work to do – students to teach, research to conduct, extension and outreach to complete. Our community, state, nation and world need what we produce.
The best strategy in times like these is to focus on that work, be productive, excel at what you do and make a difference. That’s what we have done to date and the results are encouraging – enrollment at all levels is up; CAHNRS and Extension, by far, are bringing in the majority of external funding to the university; and our strategic areas of emphasis are strong and growing. That is a direct result of all of you staying focused and on task.
You cannot take the kind of cuts we’ve undergone over the past several years and not have a dramatic impact. We have focused on being as strategic as possible to help position us to be strong once the economy improves. Please know that throughout these hard times I value you and what you do.