Board of Trustees Recap for Aug. 23, 24

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

Trustees Approve 2019-2021 Operating Budget Request

Western’s Board of Trustees on Friday approved Western’s 2019-21 operating budget request to the state of $199,491,656 in state funds and net tuition revenue, in support of academic, administrative and departmental operations. 

The budget request, developed through a yearlong process that started with academic and student need assessments, has employee compensation as a top priority. In order to maintain the excellence of Western, and to attract and retain quality faculty and staff, the request includes funding an amount equivalent to a 4 percent annual increase for all faculty and professional staff. Actual increases will be dependent on the level of funding received, collective bargaining agreements, and the Professional Staff Compensation Plan. The request for funding annual increases for the classified staff will be submitted to the Office of Financial Management (OFM) by the Oct. 1, 2018 deadline, following the collective bargaining negotiations.

In addition, included in the budget are requests for funding to update Western’s wired and wireless networks and replace Western’s outdated 35-plus year-old telephone system; and to adequately address the operations and maintenance impacts associated with Western’s major and minor capital budget projects to come on line in 2019-2021, as well as inflationary costs for utilities, and maintenance and operations of existing facilities.

Chuck Lanham, Western’s chief information officer, discussed the IT budget request with trustees, including Western’s cyber-security readiness.

Western’s biennial budget request will be sent to the state in September and will be considered as the governor and Legislature develop operating budget plans for the state’s 2019-21 biennial operating budget.

"This is the starting point in the legislative process,” Western President Sabah Randhawa told the trustees.

Decision Packages

The operating budget request includes decision packages that serve the state of Washington with a shared focus on academic excellence and inclusive achievement. They are:

  • Expanding Capacity for Prehealthcare: This proposal addresses a statewide shortage of healthcare providers by increasing the number of WWU graduates prepared for advanced healthcare degree programs. Enrollment pressures limit access to Biology and Chemistry courses required for Western’s pre-health students, a population that is increasingly diverse and from historically underserved backgrounds. This proposal and its paired capital proposal will increase course access, reduce time to degrees for students, add 70 pre-health and STEM graduates per year, and establish a new streamlined degree program (Biochemistry BA) suitable for many pre-health students, including transfer students. These changes will help WWU meet growing student demand and better prepare students for healthcare careers throughout Washington state.
  • BS Degree in Energy Science and Technology: The WWU Institute for Energy Studies (IES) requests funding for six full-time faculty positions to complete the in-demand BS degree in Energy Science and Technology, reduce STEM bottlenecks and student access issues, and expand energy research and outreach. Each position will be 50 percent in IES and 50 percent in “home” departments: engineering, physics, geology, environmental science/studies and management. Funding this proposal will add faculty expertise in building science, energy efficiency, electric power and utility planning. It will help feed the workforce for Washington’s clean energy economy, bolster sustainability and entrepreneurship initiatives, and support place-bound students on the Peninsulas and transfer students from 2-year colleges.
  • Electrical Engineering Expansion: This proposal addresses the need to expand Western’s Electrical Engineering (EE) program by increasing access to meet student demand and the needs of the state while supporting the program’s on-going efforts to improve equity and inclusion. It is the first of two phases in WWU’s long-range plan that will more than double the number of EE graduates. This proposal provides faculty and staff support to increase student access by more than 30 percent through introducing a new computer engineering concentration. On-going strategic partnerships with local industry and related state capital projects will help Western meet STEM spacing needs required for this EE expansion.
  • Enhancing Career-Connected Learning: As jobs in the modern economy continue to evolve and skills required to be successful in the workforce continue to transform, the need for career-connected learning to fulfill the promise of higher education has never been greater. This proposal will allow Western to implement an enhanced and expanded Career Services program, with the capacity to provide comprehensive and targeted individualized services to support every student in achieving their career potential. The proposed program will produce tangible results, including increased internship rates, improved job placement performance, and greater engagement with employers to help meet workforce demands and support a thriving state economy
  • Increasing the Number of Teachers in Washington State: Washington is facing a critical shortage of new teachers, especially in four high needs areas: special education, mathematics, science, and English language learning. Stakeholders such as school principals, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Professional Educator Standards Board, the Washington Association for the Council of Teacher Education, and state legislators are committed to increasing the number of Washington teachers. As a proven leader in producing education graduates and preparing them to excel in classrooms throughout the state, WWU proposes to bring 200 additional K-12 teachers into high needs/critical shortage areas each year.

In other business, the trustees:

The next regular meeting of the Board of trustees will be Oct. 11 and 12.

Meeting documents are available at the Board of Trustees website at