Contact: Paul Cocke, Director, University Communications, (360) 650-3350
BELLINGHAM – Facing an additional 6.3 percent state funding cut, Western Washington University is taking steps to further reduce its budget – including the elimination of at least 14 programs and a range of other cost-cutting measures – while protecting Western’s top priorities.
The cuts announced in Olympia today come on the heels of prior reductions in state support totaling more than $50 million to Western, this biennium. That is a 34 percent reduction in state support. Today, Western officials were informed by the state that, for the current fiscal year, Western’s budget will be further reduced by $3.05 million. That is another 6.3 percent.
“We were and will be guided by this straightforward priority: serve students who have every right to expect that they will get the quality of education for which Western is now widely known,” said WWU President Bruce Shepard.
For some weeks, Western has been preparing to respond to the need to make further cuts this fiscal year, heeding the Governor’s direction to do so by finding new ways to do business while protecting mission critical functions. Steps now under way include:
- Following campus procedures, 14 academic programs for which program admission is currently suspended because of falling demand will be now proposed for elimination. Because of falling demand, 12 others are being considered for suspension or elimination. All currently admitted or enrolled students will be served.
- Further restricting admissions to winter and spring quarters; the magnitude of the restrictions depend upon careful analysis of fall term student retention rates, class availability, and student mix.
- Reducing the award of new tuition waivers for winter and spring quarters by $250,000. Tuition waivers are a form of financial aid. Current students with such awards are not affected.
- Consolidating support services through partnerships with other entities.
- Actively reviewing other academic, administrative, and student support services to achieve further savings through consolidation, partnerships, or centralization.
A full statement on Western’s response to the recently announced state budget cuts is available at: Steps to Further Reduce Budgets.
Western is in ever higher demand. Receiving 10,000 applications for 2,700 openings, that demand has been disproportionately in the areas of high-tech and science-based preparation. Western recently cut substantially more than the required $50 million and reallocated the difference to eliminate course bottlenecks, largely located in these burgeoning but more costly areas. That commitment to students to get the classes they need in a timely fashion will be sustained even as further cuts are now necessary.
“Serving current students is the university’s top priority, shared by those who are the university and who support the university,” Shepard said. “However, it is also more. It follows from over 100 recent conversations around the state and with people from all walks of life who talked with us about their priorities for Western. This is not Western’s top commitment alone, it is Washington’s top priority for Western.”
“Critical to Washington is to have the baccalaureate capacity necessary for better futures for our state. Right now, Washington ranks 48th out of the 50 states on this dimension. These students of tomorrow come disproportionately from families of limited means and so we must also address fiscal barriers to access. We will continue to fight aggressively on both these fronts for here are serious clouds hanging over Washington’s future. But, tough choices must be made. Ethically, we have to first stand behind the commitments made to Western students: today’s and tomorrow’s,” Shepard said.