Western Washington University fared better than expected in the state budget, only having to cut about 2 percent of operating expenditures, but that is largely due to the fact students will be expected to pay large tuition increases.
The board of trustees unanimously adopted the $127.9 million 2011-12 operating budget at their meeting on Friday, June 10.
With the amount of information buried in the budget, I could essentially write a week’s worth of blog posts. However, I don’t have that kind of time, and most of you don’t have the time to read something that long. So, for a slightly detailed overview, continue reading the rest of the post. For those of you wanting to get to the nitty-gritty details, scroll to the bottom for a series of links and notes about where to find more information.
Included in the budget is about $40.3 million in revenue from the state, which accounts for about 32 percent of the university’s operating budget, with almost all the rest coming from tuition.
The university’s 2010-11 budget included about $121.7 million in expenditures, with about 45 percent coming from the state.
When compared to the amount of money needed to maintain all operations and expenses from the 2009-11 biennium, the amount the university will received from the state for the 2011-13 biennium is about $38.5 million less, or about 30 percent less.
Resident undergraduate tuition will go up 16 percent, or $857, for the 2011-12 school year, and another 16 percent, or $994, for the 2012-13 school year. That means undergraduate tuition for the 2011-12 school year will be about $7,700. Tuition for out of state undergraduate students and all graduate students will be increased by the same dollar amounts. This is the second biennium that tuition has increased by double-digits each year.
The state legislature gave state colleges and universities the ability to set their own tuition this year, but trustees and university officials didn’t want to raise it beyond the 16 percent suggested by the state budget.
Tuition for the university’s Masters in Business Administration program will increase by nearly 28 percent, or about $1,643, for state residents, and about 11.2 percent, or about $1,700, for non-state residents. The university’s program has had significantly lower tuition that other MBA programs in the state, and through a recent study, officials determined that raising tuition wouldn’t harm the program and may in fact attract more students due to a perception that a cheap program isn’t a good program.
Due to more tuition revenue coming in the second year of the biennium, about $4.1 million will be used from reserves to balance the budget. During the 2012-13 school year, $4.1 million will be put back into reserves. University officials assured board members at the meeting that there is enough money in various reserve accounts to address additional budget cuts or emergencies, if needed.
Trustee and Bellingham resident Phil Sharpe told other board members and the audience that they have been agonizing over tuition increases the last several years and that the decision isn’t made lightly.
“What we are doing is something extremely distasteful, but we have to do it to hold together (the university and programs),” Sharpe said. “It’s a necessity and it’s just where we are.”
Over the last several months, university officials and campus representatives have been working on “rebasing” the university’s budget, or narrowing the scope of what the university does.
Due to that process, several classes and majors are being combined, including areas of music and studio arts, and classes with fewer than 10 people registered won’t be offered. Some programs, including Arabic, are being moved to self-sustaining funding. Several positions, including the assistant vice president of Student Affairs and Academic Support, are being eliminated.
Overall, rebasing and budget cuts will affect the equivalent of about 68 full-time positions.
Due to rebasing, about $7 million will be reallocated to increase financial aid, backfill state cuts to the work study program, address limited access to necessary courses for graduation and resume hiring tenure-track faculty.
The board’s authorization of the budget is really an authorization of how much money will be spent, not necessarily how it will be spent. University President Bruce Shepard told board members that the proposed budget is a working document and will officials will “be continuing to tinker” with it as feedback is received from the campus community.
The Board of Trustees also approved a $28.3 million capital budget for the 2011-13 biennium at their meeting.
The capital budget, which is for building projects, includes $6.8 million for design of the Carver Academic Renovation project, $4.5 million for a comprehensive interior and exterior renovation of Fraser Hall, $8.3 million for preservation projects, $4.8 million for classroom and lab upgrades and $350,000 to start a predesign study for a possible new academic building.
Click here to view the entire operating budget. Within the documents, follow links for more information.
Some of the rebasing measures and budget cuts in the Academic Affairs division, which contains all the colleges, include: restructuring business administration program, merging 13 music areas into about half as many, phasing-out the Elementary Education major in the English department, reconfiguring the Liberal Studies Department, cutting science budgets which will impact equipment and supply replacement, and moving the TESOL certificate course to self-sustaining funds. The proposed decentralization of the Graduate School will not happen. For more details, including more cuts and costs associated with them, click here.
For Business and Financial Affairs, one of the biggest proposals is to push for sustainability changes, including reducing the number of hours the steam sculpture is operating and turning down the heat by two degrees in many areas. The division also reorganized several offices to eliminate two director-level positions. For more details, click here.
For Student Affairs and Academic Support Services, rebasing efforts include reducing athletic and associated student budgets and eliminating some positions. For more details, click here.