Board of Trustees Recap for Aug. 21

Editor’s Note: After each Board of Trustees meeting, Western Today provides a recap of decisions and discussion.


Trustees Approve 2015-17 Operating Budget Request

Western’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved a $124.9 million state operating budget request for the 2015-17 biennium.

Western’s biennial budget, developed through a bottom-up, transparent campus process over the past year that involved university offices, departments, colleges and governing bodies will be submitted to the state.

The request from Western will be considered by the Governor’s Office and Legislature as they develop a state operating budget for the 2015-17 biennium.

The budget request from Western includes requests for competitive compensation to attract and retain faculty, exempt (professional) and classified staff. It also includes Decision Packages – student success initiative; clinical doctorate in Audiology; creation of a Vehicle Engineering program, and establishment of new Engineering Geology bachelor’s and master’s programs.

The trustees also heard a presentation by David Schumacher, director of the state Office of Financial Management.

Schumacher described how the state economy is recovering slower than expected from the recent severe recession. In spite of the rebounding economy, however, he said that the 2015-2017 biennium could be more challenging than the 2013-2015 biennium, due in part to savings the Legislature was able to realize in 2013-15 that will not be available during the next biennium; costs related to court cases involving insufficient state mental health services; a projected future rise in K-12 enrollment; and the multi-billion-dollar impact of the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision regarding more state funding for K-12 education.

“Our ability to backfill anything is extremely limited,” Schumacher said.

He noted Washington’s heavy dependence on sales tax as a main revenue source but said a changing state economy has adversely affected that primary source of revenue. He said the sales tax historically has been based on taxation of goods but that the state economy is increasingly shifting to one based on provision of services. And until those services also are taxed, he added, the revenue picture in the state will continue to be extremely challenging.

In order to help the general public and Legislature fully understand the importance of the need for new revenue, he said that the governor asked that state agencies show what a 15 percent “draconian” cut would look like, then proposing in priority order what would be added back if allowed.

Western President Bruce Shepard, as he outlined in a message to campus, discussed with Schumacher that Western would not outline a 15 percent cut with such specificity as that could damage the reputation of any programs named as being possible targets.

            In other business, the trustees:

  • Welcomed new Trustee Chase Franklin and new Student Trustee Carly Roberts.
  • Welcomed Catherine Clark, new dean of the College of Science and Engineering.
  • Introduced Erika McPhee-Shaw, new director of Western’s Shannon Point Marine Center, and recognized Don Alper, Western’s director of the Center for Canadian-American Studies and Border Policy Research Institute and a professor of Political Science, who will be resigning from those positions at the end of September, and retiring from the university at the end of the year.
  • Welcomed Annika Wolters, newly elected Associated Students president, and Professor Spencer Anthony-Cahill, new president of the Faculty Senate.

·         Heard an update by Stephanie Bowers, vice president for University Advancement and executive director of the WWU Foundation, on WWU Foundation gifts and other development-related initiatives.

·         Approved the awarding of Summer Quarter Degrees and the delegation of authority to award a construction contract for the Robert Harrington Multipurpose Field storage and locker room expansion.

·         Approved board guidelines for the Services & Activity Committee and delegation of authority.

·         Heard a presentation from Lisa Wochos, assistant attorney general, on the state’s Open Meetings Act and how it pertains to governing boards.

For more information on the trustees’ meeting, see:
      The dates for the next regular meeting of the Board of Trustees are Oct. 9 and 10.