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Budget Update – the “New Normal”

Posted by | October 13, 2010

Dear Colleagues,

My last budget communication on September 27 outlined the challenges we as a university and a college face over the coming months. It is quite possible that by the beginning of the next biennium, WSU will have incurred over a three-year period a state budget reduction exceeding 40 percent. It goes without saying that we cannot remove nearly one out of every two dollars from our state allocation without incurring some major changes to the fundamental structure and program offerings of the university. CAHNRS and WSU Extension are no exception. By the beginning of the next biennium, CAHNRS and Extension will be very different looking organizations relative to where we were just three years ago.

So, what steps are being taken to address the situation? As you may be aware, Provost Bayly has asked all academic units (colleges, departments, etc.) to brainstorm and develop some “big ideas” that could yield significant efficiencies and savings. Deans, associate deans, chairs, directors, and faculty are working diligently on these proposals. Many of these ideas involve reorganization or consolidation of units, programs, or services, both academic and non-academic, such as combining two or more departments into a school. At the same time, the university is embarking on an effort to evaluate all programs across the university based upon a variety of performance-based criteria. This evaluation will likely result in the identification of programs that are under-performing and/or are no longer considered essential as the university reassesses it strategic priorities in the face of the new budget reality. These programs would be candidates for elimination.

At the college level, we are already in the process of developing an action plan to address our “new normal.” Just as President Floyd noted in his State of the University Address, all options are on the table. We are actively examining the possibilities for reorganization and consolidation of various administrative functions around the college, such as academic coordination, business and accounting functions, field operations, etc. I fully understand that even discussion of these issues will generate considerable angst. Nonetheless, various colleges at WSU and several colleges of agriculture across the country (e.g., Oregon State, University of Idaho, Purdue) have successfully implemented administrative consolidations that have allowed them to continue to function efficiently in the wake of large budget reductions.

Several people have asked me what they should do to help themselves and the university during this trying time. I would suggest that individuals should respond in the same way our college is responding – (1) focus on performance and meeting important university and unit-level metrics, (2) be flexible and adaptable to new opportunities, and (3) be relevant to mission-focused priorities. A number of us – faculty, staff, and administrators – will be asked to perform roles and responsibilities that we have not done in the past. Some faculty will be asked to teach more. Some staff will be redirected to new functions and duties.

The worst response possible is for individuals and programs to entrench in the status quo. The train has left the station, and we all should want to be on the train that is moving forward. It is not coming back, and those waiting for a return to the past will likely be without a seat.

We cannot simply focus on cost reductions, as an equally important response is looking for opportunities to increase revenue. CAHNRS and Extension faculty and staff have been extremely resilient in these difficult times, as evidenced by the receipt of over $100 million in extramural funds last fiscal year. Moving forward, we will focus more attention on pursuing large grant projects and expanding the breadth of our revenue stream (e.g., product sales, user fees, distance learning).

As I noted in my last email, we are re-instituting the CAHNRS/Extension Budget Advisory Committee. If you have ideas for achieving cost savings or revenue increases, please contact a member of the BAC (members listed below), your unit administrator, or me personally.

Thank you for your cooperation during these very difficult times.

Sincerely,
Daniel J. Bernardo, Dean

Budget Advisory Council Members

  • John Anderson, Administrative Manager, Biological Systems Engineering
  • Margaret Benson, Department Chair, Animal Sciences
  • Daniel Bernardo, Dean & Director, CAHNRS & WSU Extension
  • Jay Brunner, Director, WSU-Wenatchee Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center
  • Ralph Cavalieri, Associate Dean, Agricultural Research Center
  • Ryan Davis, Farm Manager, Crop and Soil Sciences
  • Markus Flury, Professor, Crop and Soil Sciences
  • Laura Hill, Associate Professor, Human Development
  • Don Holbrook, Director, Administrative Services, CAHNRS/WSU Extension
  • Pete Jacoby, Associate Dean & Director, CAHNRS & WSU-Prosser IAREC
  • Ron Mittelhammer, Director, Economic Sciences
  • Curt Moulton, Director, Snohomish County Extension
  • Francis Pierce, Professor, Crop and Soil Sciences and Biological Systems Engineering
  • Christine Price, Director, Grant-Adams County Extension
  • Russ Salvadalena, Creamery Manager, WSU Creamery
  • Barb Smith, Administrative Manager, Entomology
  • Maureen Stephens, Finance/Budget Manager, WSU-Puyallup Research and Extension Center
  • Blair Wolfley, Director, SW District