Budget Update

Colleagues,

The proposals for further budget reductions are now available on the web. These address the additional $3 million we are being required to cut out of the fiscal year we are currently in.

The documents begin here and follow our practices of the past. We begin with an Institutional Overview – my report to you on the proposals. That overview then links to summaries by vice presidential division. Those divisional summaries lead to spreadsheets with details.

Knowing not all have the time to go through the documents, I will summarize several key points.

First, in order to keep the cuts from being more severe, we do propose some initiatives that, at the institutional level, produce savings, cuts, or revenues totaling about $850,000. These are painful steps but do allow cut targets to be differentially reduced, looking first to protect core mission.

Nevertheless, you know we have been cutting budgets for two years, now. Big cuts. To this point, we have been able to largely protect programs of high quality and that help establish Western as a premier university. The most pernicious consequence of the accumulation of budget reductions at Western is this: we are now at a point where the only way to protect the high quality of the programs that remain is to make serious cuts to programs that are also high quality or key to the success of current initiatives. Several examples:

  • Within Academic Affairs, reductions were the smallest in percentage terms but, nevertheless include such steps as:
    • Reducing funding for the internationally acclaimed Border Policy Research Institute and Canadian American Studies program,
    • Suspending admissions to the Student Affairs Administration graduate program. This step is in addition to the previously announced 14 low enrollment programs being recommended for elimination,
  • Within University Advancement, eliminating a gift officer position even as we finalize preparations to launch a major comprehensive fund-raising campaign and actually need further investment to assure success,
  • Within University Relations, eliminating our one legislative relations support position even as we strive to provide wider support for the role of public four-year institutions and Western.

Commitments made through last year`s budget process are maintained. This includes, primarily, the commitment to reallocate about one million dollars to maintain course access and to address course bottlenecks. Impediments to timely degree completion, you will recall, was identified last academic year as the most immediate threat to our continuing excellence.

We have also proposed moving on a very serious threat to continuing excellence were it not eventually addressed: the pause in hiring tenure track faculty. We anticipate, as leases run out over the next year, saving about $500,000 through moving units to buildings the university owns. Those savings are part of the aforementioned $850,000 in institutional-level savings or reductions. We propose that those savings be added to the base budget in Academic Affairs. The savings, when they become available, would then be used to support a plan to end our pause in hiring tenure track faculty.

There are many nuances, many details. And, I bet my brief summary raises many questions. Please do consult the full report on the web. That report also explains next steps in the process of finalizing these matters. Those next steps will rapidly transpire.

I trust that the work done to date will benefit from your critical scrutiny. Questions, reactions, and further advice are always welcome. Please use the forums on the budget pages. Time constraints require that we work with representatives of faculty and student governance bodies as well as leaders of professional staff and classified colleagues so let your leadership know what you think as well.

We had very little time available to work through matters of major importance. We all owe thanks to leaders across the campus. Personally, I am very grateful to the vice presidents and deans, to University Planning and Resource Council Chair Jeff Newcomer, and to Faculty Senate president Scott Pearce. I am particularly thankful for the reliable expertise and the long hours and weekends that Paula Gilman and her superb staff in University Planning and Budgeting provided.

Nobody likes what we are again forced to do. Nor the extraordinary – some called them "emergency" – procedures we were forced to follow. But, I think we all need to pat ourselves on the back, also. Check the web. Has any other Washington university or college even begun to share the thoughtful plans, agreed to priorities, consistent strategies, and detail we have before us today for your scrutiny and improvement? That this is the case at Western is because of the aforementioned hard work by many. But, it is also because of a culture and a set of values that you share and that we all insist upon regarding how decisions are to be reached at Western.

My best,
Bruce

Page Updated 11.27.2013