Budget Recommendations to the Board of Trustees
This week, I am required to make, on behalf of the university, recommendations to our Board of Trustees on how we propose to achieve the further $3 million cut to Western’s budget for the fiscal year we are currently in. A week ago, I wrote to share with you the proposals that had been developed by planning units and to encourage your engagement so that clearly undesirable steps, however unavoidable, could be made less damaging.
Our campus engaged thoughtfully, civilly, and constructively and, particularly at times like this, that not only means better decisions. It also means a campus better able to stay strong by staying together.
I hope you share my pride in the way all who are Western did participate. The circumstances were difficult. Emergency procedures had to supplant our usual processes. We are forced to consider proposals closer and closer to the core, and all high quality. Further, and as the campus has insisted, we are not cutting across the board. Pain is more concentrated. As a consequence of these facts, people very appropriately motivated by the desire to protect the excellence that is Western, have become passionately involved in our budgetary decision making. That is very positive.
I also want to note that the broadly representative University Resources and Planning Council (UPRC) again proved to be a valuable resource for us all. As an independent body of our faculty governance organization but including leadership of all employee groups and students, they first scheduled a special meeting for the purpose of considering the proposals for reductions. They heard much testimony and asked hard questions. Then, as an addition to our unavoidably expedited process, the UPRC chair fully participated in the audiocast meeting of deans and vice presidents in order to provide conclusions and guidance on what the university’s recommendations should be.
The President of the Associated Students also fully participated in that review of the proposed cuts and the reactions shared by the campus.
While comments and ideas were received on a range of topics, in this message I will address three.
First is the proposal to suspend admission to the Student Affairs Administration (SAA) graduate degree program. As I explained in last week’s message, the SAA graduate program is a high quality program of great value to Western and to Washington. Over the course of the week of wide involvement, we have come to even more deeply appreciate those undeniable facts. We have also confirmed the reason why the proposal was first made: to cut elsewhere in Woodring would be to cut closer to the core excellence for which the college is not only known but, also, even more needed by our state. I will add, given concerns expressed last week, that Woodring faculty believe the existing MEd in Continuing and College Education that currently enrolls about 30% students of color will continue to be a robust pathway for ethnically and linguistically diverse students. My recommendation to the Trustees will include the proposal to suspend admission to the Student Affairs Administration graduate program. That it comes to tradeoffs so unfortunate for the state we exist to serve is something it is our shared responsibility to make as widely known as possible.
There was also discussion of the implications across campus for the proposal to achieve savings in the area of Scientific and Technical Services. Those reductions will be a part of the revised 2010-11 budget I recommend to our Trustees. However, Provost Riordan, Dean Norman, and Vice Provost Lawson will be meeting this week to set up a group to make recommendations about how critical core services are to be retained as the proposed reductions are implemented.
There were also many opportunities to discuss the proposal to consolidate a branch library that holds materials and provides facilities important to our high quality Music program. I will be including in my budget recommendation the savings that are projected to result from the consolidation. But, as time did not permit the full development of the proposal nor the full consideration of alternatives now being suggested, I have agreed to a recommendation from Provost Riordan and all the Deans that we provide a brief period during which the original proposal and alternatives may be more fully developed and evaluated. The programs directly affected will be included in that process of development and evaluation.
With those adjustments just noted having been made, all resulting from the participation of the campus and the thoughtful comments furnished by UPRC, my budget recommendations to our Board of Trustees will be as earlier developed by planning units and shared with the campus.
Again, thanks to the many who worked throughout the process of preparing proposals. And, to all who passionately but thoughtfully participated under circumstances made stressful because of the nature of the processes we had to follow, our refusal to cut across the board, and the substance of the critical matters we then had to consider.