Trustees approve tuition reduction

The Western Washington University Board of Trustees today approved Western’s 2015-16 state-funded operating budget, which includes a five percent tuition reduction for resident undergraduate students during the upcoming academic year.

“This tuition reduction is certainly welcome and will greatly enhance affordability and accessibility for resident undergraduate students at Western,” said Karen Lee, chair of the WWU Board of Trustees.

The state Legislature, as part of its recently passed two-year biennial operating budget, mandated tuition reductions for state-funded resident undergraduates at public universities, which at Western will be phased in with the 5 percent tuition reduction for the 2015-2016 academic year followed by an additional 15 percent reduction for 2016-2017.

Resident undergraduate students represent about 88 percent of all students at Western. The 5 percent tuition reduction this fall amounts to about a $360 reduction in tuition for each full-time state-funded resident WWU undergraduate student.

The trustees passed a motion thanking the Legislature for “making public higher education a funding priority” in the 2015-2017 legislative budget. In addition to providing funding for the tuition reductions, the Legislature also approved funding for raises for university employees and for a major renovation of the Carver Academic Facility.

“We’re deeply appreciative of the Legislature’s efforts to reinvest in Western and public higher education in general, reducing tuition for students and families without compromising the quality of what they’re paying for.  Despite working within tight budget parameters, they acted to protect Washington’s investment in the single most potent lever the state has to continually build brighter futures for all,” said Western President Bruce Shepard.

Western’s 2015-16 state operating budget totals $152.395 million. Some highlights include:

  • Western received funding from the Legislature for employee raises equivalent to about 3 percent for 2015-2016 and 1.8 percent for 2016-2017. Competitive compensation for Western employees is a top university priority. Faculty compensation will be determined through a contract being negotiated with the United Faculty of Western Washington University.
  • During 2015-2016, $910,000 for Western’s cyber-security program at Olympic and Peninsula colleges. The Legislature appropriated $1.5 million over the two-year biennial budget to extend the program.
  • Tuition for non-resident undergraduate, resident graduate, non-resident graduate and MBA students will increase 2.9 percent for 2015-16.

The trustees also approved Western’s 2015-2017 Capital Budget totaling $86,322,000, which includes $70 million that the Legislature approved to fund the major renovation of the Carver Academic Facility. The renovation, to revitalize the aging campus building, includes replacement of the building center section with a three-story addition and wrapping the east and south sides with new structure and glass windows and other exterior openings. The project will address urgently needed seismic reinforcement throughout the facility, will replace numerous aging building systems, provide improved disabled access to classrooms, labs and offices, and allow for much better use of academic spaces.

The trustees also approved awarding a construction contract for the Carver renovation project to M.A. Mortenson Co., the project’s general contractor/construction manager.

And the trustees also approved a resolution appointing Vice Chair Susan Sharpe as Presidential Search Advisory Committee Chair. Sharpe will direct the search process for a new university president; President Shepard has announced his intention to retire at the conclusion of the 2015-2016 academic year. The resolution also outlines expectations for the search process.