Western’s commitment to a quality education remains strong, even in difficult budget times
By Bruce Shepard, WWU President
First, allow me to wish you a Happy New Year. The newness of my job has yet to wear off; Iím delighted and excited to be leading such a fine institution. And Iíve enjoyed continued opportunities to meet many of you and your students.
But the New Year has certainly brought some challenges. As youíre no doubt aware, possibly on a first-hand basis, the economy has suffered some tremendous setbacks in recent months. For many Western families, this has meant lost jobs and eroded investments and uncertainty about the future.
Families may also wonder what the economic downturn will mean for Western. The answer is, we wonít know until the state Legislature decides how to work out a state budget that fills in a revenue shortfall in excess of a projected $5 billion, and that may take months.
But hereís what we do know: No matter what the immediate future brings, Western will remain true to its core mission of academic excellence. As stewards of a vibrant, resilient university, our responsibility is to take care of its future and ensure the well-being of our students. Higher education is a great investment, even more so at Western because of the extent to which our students and faculty work and learn from each other.
That doesnít mean we wonít face difficult choices. As you may know, I recently announced that we would be ending our proud football program at Western, in order to ensure the excellence of the remaining 15 intercollegiate sports at WWU. It was an especially sad and heartbreaking decision coming after a successful season.
But know that Western remains financially sound and that we are committed to providing a top-notch education. Students will continue to work with inspiring and talented professors, participate in substantive research and pursue life-changing extracurricular activities to further their academic interests.
As are many in todayís economy, weíll all be doing more with less. But help is available to you and your students. This edition of Soundings includes some very practical advice on resources available at Western. If your financial situation has changed in the last year, I strongly urge you to contact our Financial Aid office. And if your student isnít familiar with the Scholarship Center or the Student Employment Center, please take advantage of these helpful campus resources. Both have extensive Web sites to assist students finding jobs and scholarships.
And we take very much to heart the notion that our students Ė your students Ė are the problem-solvers of the future. Itís their creativity, talent, tenacity Ė and education Ė that will help bring us all to what will inevitably be better times.
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to play such an instrumental role in your studentís future. I wish you a safe, healthy and prosperous 2009.